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 TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE on Tuesday night as the president made his case for reelection during the annual State of the Union address.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Energy: Lake Mead's decline points to scary water future in West | White House leads opposition to raising gas tax | Biden taps ex-New Mexico lawmaker for USDA post Trump against boycotting Beijing Olympics in 2022 House Democrats' campaign arm raises almost million in May 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 HollenDemocrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination Zombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers Democrats face new pressure to raise taxes 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 TlaibHouse Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias Omar: I wasn't equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries MORE (D-Mich.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarYoung Turks founder on Democratic establishment: 'They lie nonstop' Hillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters MORE (D-Minn.) and Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellZombie Tax punishes farmers to fill DC coffers Democrats face new pressure to raise taxes New report reignites push for wealth tax 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) RyanJ.D. Vance emerges as wild card in Ohio GOP Senate primary 9 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022 Biden faces dilemma on Trump steel tariffs 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 SchiffCyber concerns dominate Biden-Putin summit Senate on collision course over Trump DOJ subpoenas Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cybersecurity during summit with Putin 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 NadlerSenate on collision course over Trump DOJ subpoenas Black Democrats press leaders for reparations vote this month House Judiciary to probe DOJ's seizure of data from lawmakers, journalists 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 MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? 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 McConnellGraham quips key to working with Trump: We both 'like him' The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare here to stay Democrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl 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 PhillipsOmar feuds with Jewish Democrats Shakespeare gets a congressional hearing in this year's 'Will on the Hill' Democrats plot next move after GOP sinks Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-Minn.), Josh GottheimerJoshua (Josh) GottheimerOmar feuds with Jewish Democrats House moderates unveil .25T infrastructure plan Democrats debate shape of new Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-N.J.), Tom ReedTom ReedThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel Lawmakers brace for battles with colleagues as redistricting kicks off Hundreds of businesses sign on to support LGBTQ rights legislation MORE (R-N.Y.) and Paul MitchellPaul MitchellFormer Rep. Paul Mitchell announces renal cancer diagnosis Unnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting 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-CortezHillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race Ocasio-Cortez, Gillibrand and Moulton call for more high-speed rail funding in infrastructure package Pelosi picks Democrats for special panel tackling inequality MORE (N.Y.), Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyIt's past time we elect a Black woman governor House Republicans introduce resolution to censure the 'squad' Progressives rally behind Omar while accusing her critics of bias MORE (Mass.) and Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonBiden offers traditional address in eerie setting Congressional Black Caucus members post selfie celebrating first WH visit in four years Rep. Frederica Wilson shares her famous hat collection with Netflix 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 MaloneyHow ERA is good for the economy Wray suggests limits on FBI social media tracking a 'lesson learned' after Jan. 6 Trump, allies pressured DOJ to back election claims, documents show MORE (D-N.Y.) ripped the speech as “a lot of reality TV," while House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerBiden signs Juneteenth bill: 'Great nations don't ignore their most painful moments' House passes political spending, climate change corporate disclosures bill House to vote Wednesday on making Juneteenth a federal holiday 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.