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Conservatives want Pelosi thrown in prison for ripping up Trump’s speech

The irony is lost on them.


Claire Goforth


Posted on Feb 5, 2020   Updated on May 19, 2021, 4:15 pm CDT

After an awkward moment when President Donald Trump appeared to refuse to shake her hand, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) maintained decorum throughout last night’s State of the Union address. Then, at the end, she let one fly that became the stuff of meme legend.

It also led conservatives to call for her arrest.

As the audience applauded, Pelosi picked up her copy of Trump’s speech and tore it down the middle. She later told a Fox News reporter that “it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives.” She continued, “I tore it up. I was trying to find one page with truth on it. I couldn’t.”

The move came across as an orchestrated attempt to steal the news cycle, much as Pelosi did at last year’s SOTU, when she condescendingly clapped at Trump.

To that end, tearing up the speech was effective. Republicans wasted no time lambasting her. Newt Gingrich, who once said he fought with his (now ex) wife out of a “habit of dominance,” tweeted that he was “disgusted and insulted” by the “viciously partisan action.”

Trump himself went on a spree of retweeting people critical of Pelosi.

Even the White House joined the pearl-clutching. It tweeted that Pelosi “ripped up: One of our last surviving Tuskegee Airmen. The survival of a child born at 21 weeks. The mourning families of Rocky Jones and Kayla Mueller. A service member’s reunion with his family.”

Charlie Kirk, who once said “just because you are offended doesn’t mean you are right,” took the outrage to another level. He wondered if Pelosi had committed the crime of destroying government records, which he gleefully noted is “punishable by up to three years in prison.”

Kirk’s fans were thrilled by the prospect of the House Speaker going to prison for ripping some paper. Said one, “[Pelosi] should be expelled from Congress, arrested, charged and convicted.” Another wondered when the charges would be filed.

As others quickly pointed out, however, the law Kirk refers to doesn’t apply to ripping up a copy of a record so long as the original exists; if such were the case, every federal employee who cleaned out their office would be in prison.

It’s also noteworthy that the Trump administration has quietly, and arguably illegally, directed the destruction of millions of records. In fact, Trump’s habit of tearing his own documents into pieces—which could also run afoul of the law—is so pervasive that in 2018 Politico reported that there are federal employees whose job is literally taping his papers back together.

The outrage at Pelosi continued well into the morning. Tens of thousands of tweets used hashtags such as #PelosiMeltdown, #NancytheRipper, and #NancyPelosiROCKS.

The moment and the tweets quickly became the subject of mockery and memes by both sides.

Pelosi later released a statement referring to the speech as a “manifesto of mistruths.” She accused Trump of lying about his healthcare policies, and argued for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure “in a green and modern way.”

She did not address calls for her arrest.


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*First Published: Feb 5, 2020, 10:51 am CST