Donald Trump lashed out at U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling her “bad for our country,” undercutting the White House’s message earlier Friday that the president plans to make an optimistic plea for bipartisanship in his State of the Union address next week.
“I think she’s very bad for our country,” Trump said in an interview with CBS, referring to the recent standoff over his demand for a border wall that resulted in a 35-day partial government shutdown. “She wanted to win a political point. I happen to think it’s very bad politics because, basically, she wants open borders.”
“She doesn’t mind human trafficking or she wouldn’t do this,” the president told CBS, which released excerpts of the interview late Friday. It is scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday.
In response, Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesman, said in a statement on Friday night that “President Trump’s recklessness didn’t make us safer, it undermined our security with 35 days of border patrol agents, DEA agents, FBI agents and Homeland Security personnel missing paychecks.”
Hammill said Trump had mischaracterized Pelosi’s position, since she has proposed ways to secure the border without a wall.
Earlier in the day, a White House official briefed reporters on Trump’s State of the Union speech, which he will deliver Tuesday evening with Pelosi seated behind him on the House chamber’s dais. According to an excerpt of his planned remarks, Trump will implore Congress to compromise on issues including immigration and infrastructure.
“Together we can break decades of political stalemate, we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future,” Trump plans to say, according to the excerpt, which was read to reporters at a briefing on Friday.
Trump is expected to urge Democrats to focus on working with him on legislation instead of pursuing investigations of his business and administration, and the theme of his speech will be “choosing greatness,” the White House official told reporters.
The official asked not to be identified previewing the speech. Its tone will seek to be traditional for a State of the Union, the official said -- bipartisan, optimistic and visionary.
If so, the speech would stand in contrast not only to Trump’s latest remarks about Pelosi but also to his tone throughout his presidency. His inaugural address warned darkly of “American carnage,” and he has spent months publicly excoriating Democrats in personal terms for what he calls a “crisis” on the border. The official would not say whether Trump would criticize Pelosi or Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, his antagonists in the shutdown fight, by name in his address.
While the president is expected to focus on immigration, the caustic subject that brought much of the government to a standstill, Trump will also touch on his trade conflict with China and his renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he wants the Democratic House to approve, the official said. He’ll ask lawmakers to support his efforts to reduce the cost of prescription drugs and other health care and will encourage a halt to what the official called endless foreign wars.
Trump plans to talk about Venezuela, where his administration seeks to depose President Nicolas Maduro. The official said he was instructed not to say whether any other specific countries would be mentioned.
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