Trump Skips Pelosi's Handshake at the State of the Union and She Shakes Her Head 'No' During His Speech

Only once before in American history has a sitting president delivered his annual State of the Union to Congress while being impeached by that same body

Only once before in American history has a sitting president delivered his annual State of the Union to Congress while being impeached by that same body.

Bill Clinton did, in the ’90s, and on Tuesday night Donald Trump did again — only one day before he is widely expected to be acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.

That didn’t make his return to the House of Representatives anymore unusual: Only two months ago, the House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, impeached him on charges of abuse of power and obstruction over his Ukraine scandal, saying he had betrayed the Constitution. (He denies wrongdoing.)

Tuesday’s speech was the first time that Trump, 73, and Pelosi, 79, had a chance to speak with each other since an acrimonious October meeting. In the months since, her Democratic majority led the investigation that resulted in his impeachment.

Things certainly weren’t warm between them in the House on Tuesday night.

Trump ignored Pelosi’s offer of a handshake after he handed her a copy of his State of the Union.

Minutes later, while Trump celebrated his efforts on trade, Pelosi shook her head “no” as he said, “Unlike so many who came before me, I keep my promises.” (In a subtler sign of their differences, Pelosi also wore the same pin as when she opened the impeachment debate about Trump.)

Pelosi also conspicuously chose not to introduce Trump with the standard pomp of “Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and the distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States.”

This time, she said instead, “Members of Congress, the president of the United States.”

Nancy Pelosi
President Donald Trump (left) skips a handshake from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the State of the Union address on Feb. 4. OLIVIER DOULIERY/Getty Images

After the event, Pelosi addressed the incident on Twitter.

“Democrats will never stop extending the hand of friendship to get the job done #ForThePeople. We will work to find common ground where we can, but will stand our ground where we cannot. #SOTU,” she tweeted along with a photo of her trying to shake Trump’s hand.

The handshake incident was the latest example of their sometimes tempestuous relationship.

The two leaders had not spoken since an Oct. 16 White House meeting that was supposed to be about Syria, a Pelosi spokesman told CNN. Instead, at that October discussion, Trump allegedly exploded in a “nasty diatribe” and called Pelosi a “third-rate politician” and Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers walked out.

After the meeting, Pelosi said: “I think now we have to pray for his health because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump in February. MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

Trump’s response was to tweet out a photo of Pelosi standing over a wooden table of all men and pointing her right index finger at Trump. He captioned the photo “Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!”

Pelosi, however, used the photo as her Twitter cover photo. Conservative View co-host Meghan McCain (a prominent Trump critic) lauded her, tweeting at the time:

“What is this thing everywhere where tough women who don’t put up with s— are ‘unhinged’?! Nancy looks like a bad bitch in control of a room entirely filled with men!”

Here are some of Pelosi and Trump’s other headline-making altercations:

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump at Tuesday’s State of the Union. Mario Tama/Getty Images

2019 Viral State of the Union Clap-back

At last year’s State of the Union address, Pelosi was seated in the speaker’s customary position behind Trump.

The president, who leading up to the evening had repeatedly attacked Democrats with inflammatory rhetoric and sparred with Pelosi over the then-ongoing government shutdown, called on lawmakers to “reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.”

Pelosi jumped up to join a standing ovation for Trump, her arms outstretched toward him, her lips pursed — a literal clap-back that soon went viral.

But while many believed Pelosi’s gesture to be sarcastic, she told reporters the next day that “it wasn’t sarcastic … Look at what I was applauding. I wanted him to know that it was very welcomed.”

The Oval Office Showdown

In December 2018, Trump got into an argument on live TV with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer involving Trump threatening to shut down the government over his demands for a border wall with Mexico.

“Nancy’s in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now, and I understand, and I fully understand that. We’re going to have a good discussion, and we’re going to see what happens. But we have to have border security,” Trump said.

Pelosi shot back: “Mr. President — Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats, who just won a big victory.”

After the meeting, CNN reported, Pelosi privately told Democrats of Trump: “It’s like a manhood thing for him. As if manhood could ever be associated with him. This wall thing.”

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