President Trump called for more bipartisan cooperation in his State of the Union address Tuesday night as he stood before a Congress bitterly divided over his demand for border-wall funding that resulted in a 35-day partial government shutdown.
The nationally televised 9 p.m. address in the House chamber — which was delayed a week after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) withdrew an initial invitation during the shutdown — offered Trump a chance to showcase his immigration proposals. But he also highlightd areas where he hopes to forge consensus, including around infrastructure projects and cutting the cost of prescription drugs.
Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Georgia last year, gave her party’s response.
11:10 p.m.: ‘He lies,’ Democratic lawmaker tweets after Trump speech
It was a boisterous crowd during Trump’s 81-minute State of the Union, but with Pelosi enforcing discipline, no one shouted “you lie” in the vein of Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) infamous declaration toward then-President Obama during an address to Congress in 2009.
However, one Democrat used her social media account to make the same expression.
“He lies,” freshman Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) tweeted Tuesday night, accusing Trump of “once again lying and using the #SOTU address to spread falsehoods about our beloved city of El Paso.”
“Fact is that El Paso has been one of the safest cities in the nation long before the wall was built in 2008,” she added.
11 p.m.: Abrams says she’s disappointed by Trump’s approach, but ‘I still don’t want him to fail’
Like Trump, Abrams struck a tone of bipartisanship, calling for Americans to “come together and stand for, and with, one another” during what she described as a time of division.
“America has stumbled time and again on its quest towards justice and equality. But with each generation, we have revisited our fundamental truths, and where we falter, we make amends,” she said.
Abrams described the battle against racial discrimination in historical context, noting that “we fought Jim Crow with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, yet we continue to confront racism from our past and in our present.”
She called on Americans to “hold everyone, from the very highest offices to our own families, accountable for racist words and deeds and call racism what it is — wrong.”
And she said that while she is “disappointed” with Trump’s approach to governing, “I still don’t want him to fail.”
“But we need him to tell the truth, and to respect his duties and the extraordinary diversity that defines America,” she said.
10:55 p.m.: ‘Voter suppression is real,’ Abrams says
Abrams spoke about one of her signature issues — voting rights.
“Let’s be clear: voter suppression is real,”said Abrams, who narrowly lost the state’s race for governor in November after a lengthy dispute over blocked votes. “From making it harder to register and stay on the rolls to moving and closing polling places to rejecting lawful ballots, we can no longer ignore these threats to democracy.”
Abrams has refused to concede defeat in the governor’s race and has since announced a new voting rights organization that has filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia elections officials for allegedly mismanaging the 2018 election.
“While I acknowledged the results of the 2018 election here in Georgia, I did not and we cannot accept efforts to undermine our right to vote,” she said. “That’s why I started a nonpartisan organization called Fair Fight to advocate for voting rights.”
10:40 p.m.: Kicking off Democratic response, Abrams cites ‘uncommon grace of community’
Abrams began the Democratic response by introducing herself, describing her background and hailing the values of “faith, service, education and responsibility.”
“Growing up, my family went back and forth between lower middle class and working poor,” she said. “Yet, even when they came home weary and bone-tired, my parents found a way to show us all who we could be.”
It was the “uncommon grace of community,” she said, that drove her to “become an attorney, a small business owner, a writer, and most recently, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia.”
Abrams spoke at a podium, with a crowd of supporters standing behind her.
10:30 p.m.: ‘I am asking you to choose greatness’
Trump wound down his speech with a poetic appeal to lawmakers, asking them to consider the historic achievements of their predecessors in the House chamber and — in a nod to his campaign slogan — work together to “keep America first in our hearts.”
“Think of this Capitol — think of this very Chamber, where lawmakers before you voted to end slavery, to build the railroads and the highways, to defeat fascism, to secure Civil Rights, to face down an evil empire,” Trump said.
Lawmakers were silent as Trump struck a note of unity.
“This is the time to rekindle the bonds of love and loyalty and memory that link us together as citizens, as neighbors, as patriots,” he said. “This is our future — our fate -- and our choice to make. I am asking you to choose greatness. No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.”
10:20 p.m.: Lawmakers sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to survivor of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
Trump singled out two guests from Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. One was Timothy Matson, a police officer who responded to the scene of last year’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue and suffered gunshot wounds saving lives. The other was Judah Samet, an elderly Jewish man who survived the shooting.
Matson “raced into the gunfire and was shot seven times chasing down the killer,” Trump said, prompting a long round of applause from the chamber when he thanked Matson for his “courage in the face of evil.”
Samet, Trump said, “arrived at the synagogue as the massacre began” and not only survived — he also “narrowly survived the Nazi concentration camps” more than 70 years ago.
Many in the House chamber sang “Happy Birthday” to Samet when Trump mentioned it was his 81st birthday.
“They wouldn’t do that for me, Judah,” Trump said to laughs.
10:10 p.m.: Trump urges Congress to pass late-term abortion bill
A week after Republicans attacked Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) over comments on a failed bill that would have reduced some restrictions on late-term abortions, Trump urged lawmakers in the Capitol to pass their own legislation on the issue.
He did not mention Northam by name, but referred to “the case of the governor of Virginia, where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.” Northam’s office has made clear the governor was not talking about ending the life of a delivered baby.
“To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb,” Trump said. “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life.”
10:05 p.m.: Trump announces he will meet with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Feb. 27-28
Trump announced a second nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Feb. 27-28 as the White House seeks to jump-start moribund negotiations.
“If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” Trump said. “Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.”
The Washington Post's Anne Gearan and David Nakamura have more on what to expect from the meeting.
10 p.m.: At Abrams watch party, Trump’s remarks on criminal justice reform are met with silence
At the Abrams watch party at a restaurant near downtown Atlanta, the young, diverse and largely progressive crowd was watching Trump deliver his remarks.
When Trump mentioned Alice Johnson, a nonviolent offender whose sentence Trump commuted, and Matthew Charles, the black man who he said was the first person released under new criminal justice reform, the room was silent. Devin Barrington Ward, an Atlanta activist who runs a nonprofit that works on criminal justice, HIV and issues affecting LGBTQ individuals, said it was because Trump was using the issue as a “cheap ploy.”
“We know this is dog whistling,” he said. “He’s parading around black people he set free, but providing no context about the conditions that landed them there in the first place. Without talking about providing more equity in communities of color, creating a pathway to citizenship for undocumented folks and dismantling white supremacy, he isn’t serious about criminal justice reform.”
9:55 p.m.: Chamber applauds as Trump hails record number of women in Congress
The House chamber erupted into a standing ovation when Trump mentioned the historic gains of women in Congress, in one of a few moments of bipartisan agreement.
“No one has benefitted more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new jobs created in the last year,” Trump said. When a few Democratic women stood and applauded, Trump joked, “You weren’t supposed to do that.”
He then said that “all Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before -- and exactly one century after Congress passed the Constitutional Amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than ever before.”
Pelosi could be seen behind Trump, smiling and gesturing for members to rise. The entire chamber stood in extended applause, and dozens of Democratic women in white cheered and high-fived each other.
“USA! USA! USA!” lawmakers chanted.
“That’s great,” Trump replied. “Really great. And congratulations.”
9:50 p.m.: ‘Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate; it is cruel,’ Trump says
Trump spent a considerable part of his speech warning of the dangers of illegal immigration, mentioning smugglers and a “flood” of drugs and gangs.
“Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate; it is cruel,” he said.
But as he has often done during his campaign speeches, Trump exaggerated the link between immigration and crime. The Post’s Fact Checker has more on Trump’s claims -- and the actual facts and figures.
9:45 p.m.: As Trump speaks, Pelosi responds
As Trump spoke, Pelosi kept her face mostly in a tight smile as he ran through his agenda, offering occasional polite applause. Frequently, she paged through a printed copy of Trump’s speech, peering down as Trump delivered GOP applause lines.
But on occasion she was more demonstrative. When Trump declared that “America is winning each and every day,” she appeared to meet eyes and chuckle with another Democrat, and when he declared “the state of our union is strong” a moment later, she gave a gentle shake of her head.
And when Trump mentioned the threat posed by “ridiculous partisan investiations,” Pelosi gave a sigh and rolled her eyes.
9:35 p.m.: Perry is designated survivor
The White House announced Tuesday evening that Energy Secretary Rick Perry would serve as the designated survivor for Tuesday’s State of the Union, meaning he will be sequestered in a highly secretive location until Trump has safely returned to the White House after the speech.
The previous designated survivors during the Trump administration have been Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue last year and David Shulkin, the former secretary of Veterans Affairs, in 2017.
Read more from the Post’s Seung Min Kim here.
9:30 p.m.: Trump blasts ‘ridiculous partisan investigations’
In an apparent reference to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe, Trump blasted “ridiculous” investigations.
“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States -- and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations,” Trump said. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way! We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.”
Trump has long derided the investigation as a “witch hunt.”
At an earlier point in his speech, Trump prompted cheers of “USA! USA!” from some in the House chamber when he declared, “Members of Congress, the state of our union is strong.”
“That sounds so good,” Trump said, to scattered laughter.
9:05 p.m.: Trump begins his remarks
“We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential,” Trump said at the outset of his State of the Union, telling Congress that Americans hoped “we will govern not as two parties, but as one nation.”
“We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction,” he said. “Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.”
9 p.m.: Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad in attendance
Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, a Yazidi activist and survivor of genocide, will attend the State of the Union tonight as the guest of Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.).
In 2014, the world watched in horror the Yazidi, a religious and ethnic minority in Iraq, fell victim to the Islamic State. Thousands were displaced, while many were subjected to execution, torture, and rape. In 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry officially declared the atrocities as genocide. Murad was one of thousands of Yazidi women who were taken into captivity by the Islamic State and forced into sexual slavery. She escaped, and eventually made her way to Germany as a refugee. She embarked on a career as a human rights activist and in 2018, she shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Denis Mukwege, who helped rape survivors in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is the first Iraqi to win the prize.
By attending the State of the Union tonight, “My hope is that the American people will continue to support groups like us,” she told the Post through a translator. “Without the support of the international community and especially the U.S., the Yazidis and other minorities will not be able to survive in their region...Their existence depends on it.”
Though ISIS has been beaten back in the region, the Yazidi’s plight is not over. Control of the territory remains in dispute, and thousands remain displaced, uncertain if it’s safe to return.
“We should all share humanity,” she said. She emphasized the need for security, jobs, and infrastructure in the region.
This has been a longtime issue for Fortenberry, who cosponsored 2016 House resolution that helped prompt the Obama administration to declare the slaughter of Yazidis a genocide. Tonight, he emphasized the need for security for the Yazidi and other religious minorities in Iraq. The U.S. government had pledged $300 million since Fiscal Year 2017 to aiding religious minorities in Iraq, but Fortenberry said that the region was “vulnerable to the regeneration of ISIS.”
Trump recently declared that the Islamic State had been “defeated,” though his assessment has been disputed. Though Fortenberry did not disagree with Trump, he said there was a danger of an “ISIS 2.0”.
To protect the Yazidi, he believed the U.S. and the international community could implement a training plan “empowering proper Iraqi authorities to be able to defend themselves.” He said he hoped to work on further details of a plan in the coming months.
— Kayla Epstein
8:55 p.m.: Harris delivers prebuttal to Trump’s address
Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) , one of several high-profile Democrats to declare her candidacy for president in the last month, took a proactive approach to Trump’s message Tuesday, offering a prebuttal to his State of the Union address about an hour before the speech. Harris took to Facebook Live to deliver the speech, which she delivered sitting in front of a picture of the U.S. Capitol at night.
Harris began unexpectedly -- with the words, “We’re starting?” followed by a laugh -- then continued through a mix of calls for unity and for skepticism for Trump’s messages. She did not say Trump’s name.
“We’re in store not for a speech that will seek to draw us together as Americans, but one that seeks to score political points by driving us apart,” Harris said. “We will hear insincere calls for unity.”
Harris also spent time anticipating -- then attempting to undermine -- the arguments Trump might make in his address. More than once, she shook her head and wagged her finger as she offered rebuttals.
“When you hear claims that our problems would all be solved if we just built a wall on our southern border, don’t forget the babies, ripped from their parents’ arms,” she said.
Harris’s speech lasted about eight minutes, and ended with the senator reminding viewers to watch Abrams’s official rebuttal after Trump’s address.
8:45 p.m.: Former workers at Trump’s Bedminster golf course will attend speech
If Trump levies his usual warnings tonight about the dangers posed by undocumented immigrants, he will do so with two women in the audience who worked for him — without legal status — at his golf course in Bedminster, N.J.
Since coming forward in a New York Times story in December, Victorina Morales, an immigrant from Guatemala, and Sandra Diaz, a Costa Rica native who is now a legal U.S. resident, have been caught up in a whirlwind of publicity and new revelations about the prevalence of undocumented workers at Trump golf clubs. They visited Capitol Hill to meet legislators, spent time with recently fired workers at other Trump golf courses and returned to Washington for Tuesday’s speech.
Both Morales and Diaz have talked about difficult aspects of the job, including demanding managers. They also said they believe their bosses were aware they were undocumented throughout their time at Bedminster (something the Trump Organization has denied).
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) invited Morales to the event and Diaz was invited by Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif).
Gomez said he was inspired by Diaz’s “story and her courage.”
8:30 p.m.: ‘Great nations do not fight endless wars,’ Trump will say
According to advance excerpts, Trump will argue that the United States must stop fighting “endless wars,” in remarks that echo his calls for a military drawdown in Afghanistan and Syria.
“As a candidate for president, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars,” Trump is expected to say.
He will also declare that “we can break decades of political stalemate” — despite the prospect of a second government shutdown next week.
“We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future,” Trump will say. “The decision is ours to make.”
Trump will contend that his agenda is “not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda — it is the agenda of the American people.”
And he will emphasize the issue of illegal immigration, which he is expected to describe as a problem that illustrates the divide between “America's working class and America’s political class.”
“Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards,” Trump will say.
8:20 p.m.: Trump trashes Democrats at luncheon with TV anchors
As his aides were previewing a “unifying” State of the Union address focused on “comity,” Trump on Tuesday trashed Democrats — as well as the late Republican senator John McCain — at a freewheeling lunch with television news anchors.
Trump assailed Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) as a “nasty son of a bitch,” ridiculed former vice president Joe Biden as “dumb” for his history of gaffes, and accused Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) of “choking like a dog” at his news conference denying he was in a racist photo on his yearbook page, according to two attendees and a third person who was briefed on the discussions.
It is an annual tradition for presidents to host news anchors for an off-the-record lunch the day of their “State of the Union” speech, but Trump did more than preview his address.
Trump held forth with a stream-of-consciousness commentary on his political foes — including McCain, who died of cancer last year, mocking him for the sales of his latest book. Trump also said he hoped to run against Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), but mockingly said, “I hope I haven’t wounded Pocahontas too badly,” a reference to his attacks on the senator for her claims of Native American heritage.
The New York Times was first to report some of Trump’s comments at the lunch.
Trump was especially caustic with his comments about Biden, who is considering a 2020 presidential campaign.
“Biden was never very smart,” Trump said about Biden, according to The Times and confirmed by The Washington Post. “He was a terrible student. His gaffes are unbelievable. When I say something that you might think is a gaffe, it’s on purpose; it’s not a gaffe. When Biden says something dumb, it’s because he’s dumb.”
One Democrat Trump praised was freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.). The president claimed that he was among the first to spot her political talent and said he had predicted she would defeat longtime Rep. Joseph Crowley in a primary upset last year. Trump said he knew Ocasio-Cortez had “it,” meaning star power, according to the attendee and the person briefed on the discussion.
Trump delivered a lengthy rant about McCain, whom he often singles out at campaign rallies for his vote against the Trump-backed Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The president remarked that the late senator’s final book, a capstone to his life in public service, “bombed.”
“The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights and Other Appreciations” was published in 2018 and became a New York Times bestseller.
Trump, who aides say is planning in his State of the Union speech to criticize Northam for comments he made last week about abortion, attacked Northam at the lunch for the racial controversy surrounding his 1984 medical school yearbook page.
“Did you see that news conference?” Trump asked. “Could you believe it? He choked like a dog.”
Trump called Northam “a loser.”
Trump then went into what one person briefed on the discussion described as a non-sequitur about his own past encounters with pop star Michael Jackson, whom Northam admitted to impersonating at a dance contest wearing blackface.
Trump talked at length with the anchors about what he sees as his successes as president and claimed that he has drawn the biggest crowds in the nation’s history. When he walked into the room, he spotted CBS “Face the Nation” anchor Margaret Brennan, whose interview of the president aired on Sunday ahead of the Super Bowl, and asked about the ratings.
“How’d we do?” Trump asked Brennan. “Did we win?”
— Philip Rucker and Josh Dawsey
8:15 p.m.: Becerra says wall is ‘not only immoral; it’s illegal’
In the Spanish-language Democratic response to Trump’s State of the Union, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra will take on the president’s long-promised border wall as well as the prospect of declaring a state of emergency.
“The idea of declaring a state of emergency at the border when one doesn’t exist — in order to justify stealing funds that belong to the victims of fires, floods, hurricanes and drought to pay for the wall — is not only immoral, it’s illegal,” Becerra is expected to say, according to his prepared remarks.
“We are ready to reject this senseless proposal in court as soon as it touches the ground,” he will say.
8 p.m.: Abrams takes aim at Trump, Republicans on shutdown, voting rights
Abrams will argue during her State of the Union response that the recent federal shutdown was a “stunt” by Trump, according to excerpts of her speech.
“Just a few weeks ago, I joined volunteers to distribute meals to furloughed federal workers,” Abrams is expected to say. “They waited in line for a box of food and a sliver of hope since they hadn’t received a paycheck in weeks. Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace.”
“The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people — but our values,” her prepared remarks read.
Abrams will also discuss voting rights, one of her signature issues, which she describes as “the next battle for our democracy.”
“We must reject the cynicism that says allowing every eligible vote to be cast and counted is a ‘power grab,’” Abrams will say, in an apparent nod to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) recent remarks on the subject.
McConnell said last week that a House Democratic bill that would make Election Day a federal holiday is a “power grab,” a statement that prompted a fierce backlash online.
“The foundation of our moral leadership around the globe is free and fair elections, where voters pick their leaders — not where politicians pick their voters,” Abrams will say.
7:15 p.m.: McConnell ‘certainly hopeful’ lawmakers can reach a deal
In an interview on Fox News Channel, McConnell said he is “certainly hopeful” that a bipartisan group of lawmakers will be able to craft a deal to avert another government shutdown next week — but that a national emergency remains an option for Trump.
“I’m hoping the president will be able to sign the bill. The conferees are working hard,” McConnell said.
He warned that if Trump declares an emergency, “there is a process where the Congress could try to undo that.”
“That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s an argument for not doing it,” but the move would spark controversy, McConnell said.
He also said that he hopes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will run for a Senate seat in Kansas — days after Trump dismissed the prospect.
“I’d sure like for him to think about it,” McConnell said of Pompeo, adding that “there’s no urgency for him to make that decision.”
6:10 p.m.: ‘Together, we can break decades of political stalemate,’ Trump will say
In materials sent to lawmakers’ staffs ahead of Trump’s State of the Union, the White House highlighted excerpts and several key messages of the address. The theme of the speech is “Choosing Greatness.”
The White House reminded Hill staffers, “As always, we would welcome positive statements from your bosses after the speech.”
“Together, we can break decades of political stalemate,” Trump will say, according to the White House. “We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.”
The White House says Trump will “cast an inspiring vision of American greatness,” “express confidence in this hopeful future” and “encourage Congress to reject the politics of resistance and retribution and instead adopt a spirit of cooperation and compromise.”
That’s a markedly different tone from the dark vision of America Trump outlined in his 2017 inaugural address.
In an appearance on Fox News Channel early Tuesday evening, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump was in a “great mood.” His address, she said, would be about “looking forward, a visionary speech about the great things that we can do in this country.”
5:40 p.m.: Four of nine Supreme Court justices are expected to attend
Trump is not going to draw a majority of the Supreme Court for this third address to Congress.
Only four of the nine justices are expected. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Elena Kagan will maintain their perfect attendance records since joining the court, he in 2005 and she in 2010. They will be joined by Trump’s choices for the court, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, making his second appearance, and Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, making his first.
Some on the far right had taken to social media to demand that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg attend, to show the country that she was alive and well. Ginsburg underwent surgery to remove malignant nodules in her left lung on Dec. 21, and was absent for the court’s January oral arguments. They were the first hearings the 85-year-old justice has missed since joining the court in 1993, although she has been working from home and will participate in deciding the 11 cases the court heard in that sitting.
Ginsburg made her first public appearance since the surgery Monday night at an event in Washington sponsored by the National Constitution Center.
Justice Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. stopped going to the State of the Union years ago. Justice Sonia Sotomayor sometimes attends and sometimes doesn’t.
The most loyal justice, though, will also be absent. Justice Stephen G. Breyer has rarely missed the event since he joined the court in 1994 — as this chart shows, in some years he was the only justice who attended. But he is out of the country on a long-scheduled trip.
5:10 p.m.: Schumer invites air traffic controller to speech
Schumer has invited Ronan Byrne, a Long Island air traffic controller who worked without pay for 35 days during the government shutdown, to be his guest for tonight’s speech.
In a statement, Schumer called Byrne “a prime example of a dedicated and professional federal worker — doing a vital job for the American public — who was put through the ringer for no good reason.”
“This shutdown should never have happened in the first place, and it absolutely should not happen again,” he said.
4:10 p.m.: Democratic women wear white in nod to suffragists
Dozens of Democratic women — and a few men, too — gathered in the Capitol Visitors Center for a group portrait Tuesday afternoon. The participants dressed in white, the traditional color of suffragists. They were joined by Pelosi, who will sit on the House rostrum Tuesday night for the first time in eight years.
For more on the historical significance of the color choice, read more from Marisa Iati.
3:45 p.m.: Trump takes aim at Northam over abortion comments
Trump criticized Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), for supporting “very late abortion” during a meeting with surrogates Monday, but did not attack the governor for a racist photo on his yearbook page or wearing “blackface” or black shoe polish on his face.
On the day of his State of the Union address, Trump met with about 15 surrogates. They included former Trump deputy campaign manager David Bossie, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, former White House communications director Jason Miller, former U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director Thomas Homan, and pro-Trump commentators Jeffrey Lord and Paris Dennard. Vice President Pence and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney also attended the meeting.
The president and his aides suggested he was unlikely to declare a national emergency and instead would focus his speech on issues that bring “unity,” according to one attendee. Trump said he wanted to highlight his foreign policy record — with aides saying he planned to talk about his efforts to get member countries to pay more for NATO.
Trump also said he was going to talk about a large infrastructure package, cutting regulations, and moves to lower the prices of prescription drugs, an attendee said.
One White House aide said Trump sees the State of the Union address as providing some of his best media coverage of the year — and “does not want to blow that up” with any comments that would create a controversy.
Trump only stayed in the meeting for a few minutes and told his surrogates he needed to practice his speech more.
Robert Barnes, Maria Sacchetti, Josh Dawsey, Ann E. Marimow, Chelsea Janes and Seung Min Kim contributed to this story.