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Trump, Pelosi Feud Heats Up Again      01/18 06:21

   The shutdown battle between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy 
Pelosi is playing out as a surreal game of constitutional brinkmanship, with 
both flexing political powers from opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue as the 
negotiations to end the monthlong partial government shutdown remain stalled.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- She imperiled his State of the Union address. He denied 
her a plane to visit troops abroad.

   The shutdown battle between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy 
Pelosi is playing out as a surreal game of constitutional brinkmanship, with 
both flexing political powers from opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue as the 
negotiations to end the monthlong partial government shutdown remain stalled.

   In dramatic fashion, Trump issued a letter to Pelosi on Thursday, just 
before she and other lawmakers were set to depart on the previously undisclosed 
trip to Afghanistan and Brussels. Trump belittled the trip as a "public 
relations event" --- even though he had just made a similar warzone stop --- 
and said it would be best if Pelosi remained in Washington to negotiate to 
reopen the government.

   "Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, 
that would certainly be your prerogative," wrote Trump, who had been smarting 
since Pelosi, the day before, called on him to postpone his Jan. 29 State of 
the Union address due to the shutdown.

   Denying military aircraft to a senior lawmaker --- let alone the speaker, 
who is second in line to the White House, traveling to a combat region --- is 
very rare. Lawmakers were caught off guard. A bus to ferry the legislators to 
their departure idled outside the Capitol on Thursday afternoon.

   The political tit-for-tat between Trump and Pelosi laid bare how the 
government-wide crisis has devolved into an intensely pointed clash between two 
leaders determined to prevail. It took place as hundreds of thousands of 
federal workers go without pay and Washington's routine protocols --- a 
president's speech to Congress, a lawmaker's official trip --- became 
collateral damage.

   Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the speaker planned to travel to 
Afghanistan and Brussels to thank service members and obtain briefings on 
national security and intelligence "from those on the front lines." He noted 
Trump had traveled to Iraq during the shutdown, which began Dec. 22, and said a 
Republican-led congressional trip also had taken place.

   Trump's move was the latest example of his extraordinary willingness to 
tether U.S. government resources to his political needs. He has publicly urged 
the Justice Department to investigate political opponents and threatened to cut 
disaster aid to Puerto Rico amid a spat with the island territory's leaders.

   Some Republicans expressed frustration. Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted, "One 
sophomoric response does not deserve another." He called Pelosi's State of the 
Union move "very irresponsible and blatantly political" but said Trump's 
reaction was "also inappropriate."

   While there were few signs of progress Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence 
and senior adviser Jared Kushner dashed to the Capitol late in the day for a 
meeting with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And the State 
Department instructed all U.S. diplomats in Washington and elsewhere to return 
to work next week with pay, saying it had found money for their salaries at 
least temporarily.

   For security reasons, Pelosi would normally make such a trip on a military 
aircraft supplied by the Pentagon. According to a defense official, Pelosi did 
request Defense Department support for overseas travel and it was initially 
approved. The official wasn't authorized to speak by name about the matter, so 
spoke on condition of anonymity.

   The official said the president does have the authority to cancel the use of 
military aircraft.

   Rep. Adam Schiff of California slammed Trump for revealing the closely held 
travel plans.

   "I think the president's decision to disclose a trip the speaker's making to 
a war zone was completely and utterly irresponsible in every way," Schiff said.

   Trump's trip to Iraq after Christmas was not disclosed in advance for 
security reasons.

   White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wanted Pelosi to 
stay in Washington before Tuesday, a deadline to prepare the next round of 
paychecks for federal workers.

   "We want to keep her in Washington," Sanders said. "The president wants her 
here to negotiate."

   The White House also canceled plans for a presidential delegation to travel 
to an economic forum in Switzerland next week, citing the shutdown. And they 
said future congressional trips would be postponed until the shutdown is 
resolved, though it was not immediately clear if any such travel --- which 
often is not disclosed in advance --- was coming up.

   Trump was taken by surprise by Pelosi's move to postpone his address and 
told one adviser it was the sort of disruptive move he would make himself, 
according to a Republican who is in frequent contact with the White House and 
was not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

   While he maintained a public silence, Trump grew weary of how Pelosi's move 
was being received on cable TV and reiterated fears that he was being 
outmaneuvered in the public eye. Trump was delighted at the idea of canceling 
Pelosi's trip, believing the focus on the resources needed would highlight her 
hypocrisy for cancelling his speech, according to the Republican.

   Trump has still not said how he will handle Pelosi's attempt to have him 
postpone his State of the Union address until the government is reopened so 
workers can be paid for providing security for the grand Washington tradition.

   Pelosi told reporters earlier Thursday: "Let's get a date when government is 
open. Let's pay the employees. Maybe he thinks it's OK not to pay people who do 
work. I don't."

   Trump declined to address the stalemate over the speech during a visit 
Thursday to the Pentagon, simply promising that the nation will have "powerful, 
strong border security."

   Pelosi reiterated she is willing to negotiate money for border security once 
the government is reopened, but she said Democrats remain opposed to Trump's 
long-promised wall.

   "I'm not for a wall," Pelosi said twice, mouthing the statement a third time 
for effect.

   The shutdown, the longest ever, entered its 28th day on Friday. The previous 
longest was 21 days in 1995-96, under President Bill Clinton.

   In a notice to staff, the State Department said it can pay most of its 
employees beginning Sunday or Monday for their next pay period. They will not 
be paid for time worked since the shutdown began until the situation is 
resolved, said the notice.

   The new White House travel ban did not extend to the first family.

   About two hours after Trump grounded Pelosi and her delegation, an Air 
Force-modified Boeing 757 took off from Joint Base Andrews outside Washington 
with the call sign "Executive One Foxtrot," reserved for the first family when 
the president is not traveling with them. It landed just before 7 p.m. at Palm 
Beach International Airport, less than 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the 
president's private club.

   A White House spokesperson did not answer questions about the flight.


(KA)

 
 
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