Democrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally'

Democrats were exasperated over what they called a raucous campaign-style speech from President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor NBA to contribute 1 million surgical masks to NY essential workers Private equity firm with ties to Kushner asks Trump administration to relax rules on loan program: report MORE on Tuesday night as the president made his case for reelection during the annual State of the Union address.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Pelosi, Democrats using coronavirus to push for big tax cuts for blue state residents US watchdog vows 'aggressive' oversight after intel official fired MORE (D-Calif.) appeared disgusted during much of Trump’s third State of the Union address. By the end of it, she ripped up his speech and set it aside while her political nemesis was still standing on the House dais.

“I tore it up,” Pelosi replied when asked by reporters what she thought of the speech.


Pelosi added that it was "the courteous thing to do given the alternatives."

In many ways, Trump’s 80-minute speech represented a starting gun for his reelection campaign. It was short on bipartisan policy proposals and included plenty of red meat for his base that he will need to turn out at the polls in order to propel him to a second term in November.

Trump took credit for the economic recovery and contended he had reversed “American decline” — a line Democrats saw as a not-so-veiled shot at President Obama’s eight years of growth. He also railed against "sanctuary cities" for undocumented immigrants and bragged that he was building hundred of miles of new wall along the Mexico border.

And Trump used his national platform to present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a man loathed by the left: conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who just announced he has lung cancer.

“If I wanted to attend a MAGA rally, I would attend a MAGA rally,” fumed Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenPentagon gets heat over protecting service members from coronavirus Overnight Defense: Lawmakers call for probe into aircraft carrier captain's firing | Sailors cheer ousted commander | Hospital ship to ease screening process for patients Lawmakers call for investigation into aircraft carrier captain's firing MORE (D-Md.), a former House member and close Pelosi ally. “The president never misses an opportunity to further divide the country. It was a disgraceful performance."

“The only good moments were recognizing some of the great Americans in the balcony, but the president really turned this into a circus performance,” Van Hollen said. “I’ve never seen a president disgrace the House of Representatives in the chamber the way President Trump did tonight.”


The night started on a sour note. Trump appeared to snub Pelosi when she reached out to shake his hand. 

It was downhill from there.

Trump’s Republican allies in Congress cheered almost every line he delivered, kicking off the night by chanting: “Four more years! Four more years!” 

Democrats sat on their hands for most of the night, and when they couldn’t restrain themselves they groaned and yelled “no” and shook their heads. 

Several, including Reps. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Pressley, Tlaib introduce bill providing .5B in emergency grants for the homeless MORE (D-Mich.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarTexas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Undocumented aliens should stay away as COVID-19 rages in the US The Southern Poverty Law Center and yesterday's wars MORE (D-Minn.) and Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellOne year in, Democrats frustrated by fight for Trump tax returns Hispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins MORE (D-N.J.), stormed out midway through the speech in disgust.

“I just walked out of the #StateOfTheUnion. I’ve had enough. It’s like watching professional wrestling. It’s all fake,” tweeted Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Lawmakers call for universal basic income amid coronavirus crisis Democrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally' MORE (D-Ohio), a former 2020 presidential candidate.

Tuesday's address was expected to include tense moments, with Trump entering the same House of Representatives that had impeached him for abuse of power and obstruction of justice only seven weeks earlier.

Though Trump never uttered a word about impeachment, sitting before him were all of the characters of the impeachment investigation and trial that have consumed Washington for the past four months.

Pelosi, who led the Democrats into the effort, was seated just above Trump’s left shoulder. To his side, occupying an entire row, were the seven Democratic impeachment managers, including House Intelligence Chairman Committee Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump defends firing of intel watchdog, calling him a 'disgrace' Democrats seize on Trump's firing of intelligence community watchdog Trump fires intelligence community watchdog who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint MORE (D-Calif.), the lead prosecutor who had investigated the president’s Ukraine dealings for months, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Judiciary Committee postpones hearing with Barr amid coronavirus outbreak House Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Pelosi rejects calls to shutter Capitol: 'We are the captains of this ship' MORE (D-N.Y.), who had his hand on his chin for most of the night.

All the president’s men were seated on the House floor as well: acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOne year in, Democrats frustrated by fight for Trump tax returns Meadows joins White House in crisis mode Meadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump says 40,000 Americans have been repatriated who were stranded abroad US should adopt a Marshall Plan for Ethiopia Tired of worrying about the pandemic? There's always Pyongyang MORE and budget chief Russell Vought — members of the administration who all played a role in the impeachment inquiry but never testified before the House or the Senate.

In the front row: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who has had many late nights presiding over Trump’s Senate impeachment trial for the last two weeks. That trial will wrap up at 4 p.m. Wednesday when Republican senators — most of whom attended the speech — will vote to acquit Trump of both charges.

“Great job, great job,” a grinning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi eyes end of April to bring a fourth coronavirus relief bill to the floor Progressive group knocks McConnell for talking judicial picks during coronavirus Overnight Health Care: CDC recommends face coverings in public | Resistance to social distancing sparks new worries | Controversy over change of national stockpile definition | McConnell signals fourth coronavirus bill MORE (R-Ky.) told Trump as he stepped down from the elevated dais after the speech.


The night showcased a few moments of bipartisanship, however. 

Democrats and Republicans in the Problem Solvers Caucus — including Reps. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsLawmakers call for unemployment benefits for evacuated Peace Corps volunteers Pelosi rejects calls to shutter Capitol: 'We are the captains of this ship' Congressional leaders downplay possibility of Capitol closing due to coronavirus MORE (D-Minn.), Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerInfrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Pelosi floats undoing SALT deduction cap in next coronavirus bill NJ lawmaker tests negative for COVID-19 MORE (D-N.J.), Tom ReedThomas (Tom) W. ReedInfrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Overnight Defense: Pentagon curtails more exercises over coronavirus | House passes Iran war powers measure | Rocket attack hits Iraqi base with US troops House passes measure limiting Trump's ability to take military action against Iran MORE (R-N.Y.) and Paul MitchellPaul MitchellHundreds of thousands of masks missing from federal shipments to Michigan On The Money: Pelosi announces deal over coronavirus package | Questions remain about Trump's support | Trump declares national emergency | Stocks rally to close out wild week Lawmakers call on IRS to push back tax filing deadline MORE (R-Mich.) — all sat together and sported purple ties. And Trump got a handful of bipartisan standing ovations, including when he touted a boost to military spending. 

“To safeguard American liberty, we have invested a record-breaking $2.2 trillion in the United States military,” Trump said.

More visible than the men in purple ties were the women all decked out in white. Before the address, dozens of House Democratic women — all sporting suffragist white — packed onto a stairway in the Capitol for their annual State of the Union photo. 

Several of the Democrats, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Trump blasts Schumer over 'incorrect sound bites' on coronavirus Trump warns against 'partisan investigations' after Pelosi establishes select committee on virus response MORE (N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Pressley experiencing flu-like symptoms, being tested for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (Mass.) and Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonHere are the lawmakers who have self-quarantined as a precaution Biden rise calms Democratic jitters Democrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally' MORE (Fla.), were absent this year, boycotting Trump’s speech altogether.

But Tlaib, one of two Muslim women in Congress, said she wanted to be on hand to show the diversity of today’s Democratic caucus. Tlaib is also part of “the squad,” the four progressive freshman women of color who were attacked by Trump last year.  


“For me, it really was about trying to represent my district and be seen,” Tlaib said after posing for the photo with Pelosi and other female colleagues. “I think me being in the audience says volumes, especially to a president that told me to go back where I came from. Well, I’m coming back to the United States House floor. ... This is the most diverse class I’ve ever seen.”

After Trump’s stem-winder, Democrats retreated to Statuary Hall, which was packed with TV cameras and reporters and turned into a post-speech spin room. It was there that Democrats unloaded on Trump.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyFEMA tells House panel national supply of ventilators running low Stimulus opens new front in Trump's oversight fight Overnight Health Care: Trump resists pressure for nationwide stay-at-home order | Trump open to speaking to Biden about virus response | Fauci gets security detail | Outbreak creates emergency in nursing homes MORE (D-N.Y.) ripped the speech as “a lot of reality TV," while House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerProcedural politics: What just happened with the coronavirus bill? DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House MORE (D-Md.) said its rally-like tone was extremely inappropriate.

"That's not what the State of the Union's supposed to be about. It's not a political rally with some of his supporters in one of these places he goes all over the country and whips up these crowds,” Hoyer lamented.

"The speech was to whip up his base, and brought up very divisive issues on which there is disagreement. So it didn't set the table for bipartisan agreement."

Mike Lillis, Cristina Marcos and Juliegrace Brufke contributed to this report, which was updated at 7:40 a.m.