Pelosi claims that the president leaked information about a planned visit to Afghanistan in retaliation for her suggestion that Trump’s State of the Union address be postponed.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claims she was forced to postpone an official trip to Europe and Afghanistan after President Donald Trump grounded her military flight and leaked an alternative commercial itinerary.
“In light of the grave threats cause by the president’s action, the delegation has decided to postpone the trip so as not to further endanger our troops and security personnel, or the other travelers on the flights,” said Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff.
Hamill says the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service raised its threat assessment for the trip overnight.
Trump, writes the New York Times, revoked Pelosi’s planned use of a military plane for the trip on Thursday. She had been planning to leave the same afternoon.
Hamill suggested “that the president announcing this sensitive travel had significantly increase the danger to the delegation and to the troops, security, and other officials supporting the trip.”
“This morning,” Hammill added, “we learned that the administration had leaked the commercial travel plans as well.”
According to the Times, people close to Trump revealed on Thursday night that Pelosi was planning to travel to Afghanistan anyway. Word of the alternative arrangement eventually reached the White House and President Trump.
White House officials have denied any charge that Trump may have deliberately leaked her travel plans, saying there’s no way such a high-profile politician would’ve been able to keep the trip a secret.
“When the speaker of the House and about 20 others from Capitol Hill decide to book their own commercial flights to Afghanistan, the world is going to find out,” the official said, speaking anonymously. “The idea we would leak anything that would put the safety and security of any American at risk is a flat-out lie.”
The Times says the power-play is probably the latest ‘tit-for-tat’ between Pelosi and Trump.
Pelosi made headlines for formally requesting that the president postpone his State of the Union address, citing the partial government shutdown and lack of employee pay—including security personnel—as a reason.
Why would Nancy Pelosi leave the Country with other Democrats on a seven day excursion when 800,000 great people are not getting paid. Also, could somebody please explain to Nancy & her “big donors” in wine country that people working on farms (grapes) will have easy access in!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2019
But Trump wasn’t willing to let the slight slide by. The next day, making use of the same shutdown argument, the president asked Pelosi to delay the trip, which he called a “public relations event.”
“Obviously, if you would like to make your trip by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative,” Trump said in a letter.
And even before Pelosi’s office announced that the trip would be delayed, Trump took to Twitter, questioning her patriotism.
“Why would Nancy Pelosi leave the Country with other Democrats on a seven day excursion when 800,000 great people are not getting paid,” Trump asked online.
The White House also launched a new policy that’d curtail any official, taxpayer-funded travel by congresspeople and their staff for the duration of the shutdown. Exceptions would be made only for lawmakers soliciting and receiving Trump’s approval.
The Boston Herald reports that Trump’s team has justified the policy by saying it’s necessary to keep key figures inside Washington for negotiations.
“One of the reasons that the president did not want Speaker Pelosi to leave the country is because, if she did, it would all but guarantee the fact that the negotiations couldn’t take place over the weekend,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.