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Standing before a Congress and nation sharply divided by impeachment, President Donald Trump used his State of the Union address Tuesday to extol a “Great American Comeback” on his watch, three years after he took office decrying a land of “American carnage” under his predecessor.

The first president to run for reelection after being impeached, Trump received a raucous but divided response from Congress with Republicans in the House of Representatives chanting “Four More Years” while Democrats stood mute.

“America’s enemies are on the run, America’s fortunes are on the rise and the America’s future is blazing bright,” Trump declared. “In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!”

Setting a yardstick for success and then contending he’d surpassed it, Trump has now gone from an inaugural address that decried “American carnage” to extolling the “Great American Comeback”, offering the nation’s economic success as a chief rationale for a second term.

Trump spent much of the speech highlighting the economy’s strength, including low unemployment, stressing how it has helped blue-collar workers and the middle class, though the period of growth began under his predecessor, Barack Obama. And what Trump calls an unprecedented boom is, by many measures, not all that different from the solid economy he inherited from President Barack Obama. Economic growth was 2.3% in 2019, matching the average pace since the Great Recession ended a decade ago in the first year of Obama’s eight-year presidency

Trump stressed the new trade agreements he has negotiated, including his phase-one deal with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement he signed last month.

The main suspense was whether he would address the charges against him.

Trump spoke from the House of Representatives, on the opposite side of the Capitol from where the Senate one day later was expected to acquit him largely along party lines. The first half of his nationally televised speech was largely optimistic, not mentioning the impeachment trial that has consumed Washington in favor of a recitation of accomplishments and promises.

Yet the partisan divide within Washington was embodied by the woman over his left shoulder, visible in nearly every camera shot: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

A frequent thorn in Trump’s side who authorized the impeachment proceedings that charged the president with abusing the power of his office to push Ukraine to investigate a political foe, Pelosi created a viral image with her seemingly sarcastic applause of the president a year ago.

Trump appeared no more cordial. When he climbed to the House rostrum, he did not take her outstretched hand but it was not clear he had seen her gesture. Later, as Republicans often cheered, she remained in her seat, at times shaking her head at Trump’s remarks.

Even for a Trump-era news cycle that seems permanently set to hyper-speed, the breakneck pace of events dominating the first week of February offered a singular backdrop for the president’s address.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who has presided in the Senate over only the third impeachment trial in the nation’s history, was on hand again Tuesday night – this time in his more customary seat in the audience. Trump stood before the very lawmakers who have voted to remove him from office – and those who are expected to acquit him when the Senate trial comes to a close.

The leading Senate Democrats hoping to unseat him in November were campaigning in New Hampshire.

In advance of his address, Trump tweeted that the chaos in Iowa’s Monday leadoff caucuses showed Democrats were incompetent and should not be trusted to run the government.

Among Trump’s guests in the chamber: Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has been trying for months to win face time with Trump, his most important international ally.

The president offered Guaidó exactly the sort of endorsement he’s been looking for as he struggles to oust President Nicolás Maduro from power. Trump called Guaidó “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela.”

“Mr. President, please take this message back to your homeland,” Trump said. “All Americans are united with the Venezuelan people in their righteous struggle for freedom! Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul.”

Trump entered the night on a roll, with his impeachment acquittal imminent, his job approval numbers ticking upward and Wall Street looking strong.

In the closest historical comparison, Bill Clinton did not mention his recent impeachment when he delivered his State of the Union in 1999. In his address a year ago, Trump did remain on message, making no mention of how Pelosi had originally disinvited him from delivering the speech during the longest government shutdown in the nation’s history.

Trump spent much of the speech highlighting the economy’s strength, including low unemployment, stressing how it has helped blue-collar workers and the middle class, though the period of growth began under his predecessor, Barack Obama. And what Trump calls an unprecedented boom is, by many measures, not all that different from the solid economy he inherited from President Barack Obama. Economic growth was 2.3% in 2019, matching the average pace since the Great Recession ended a decade ago in the first year of Obama’s eight-year presidency

Trump stressed the new trade agreements he has negotiated, including his phase-one deal with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement he signed last month.

While the White House said the president would have a message of unity, he also spent time on issues that have created great division and resonated with his political base. He attacked Democrats’ health care proposals for being too intrusive and again highlighted his signature issue – immigration – trumpeting the miles of border wall that have been constructed.

He also dedicated a section to “American values,” discussing efforts to protect “religious liberties” and limit access to abortion as he continues to court the evangelical and conservative Christian voters who form a crucial part of his base.

The Democrats were supplying plenty of counter-programming, focusing on health care – the issue key to their takeover of the House last year. Trump, for his part, vowed to not allow a “socialist takeover of our health care system” a swipe at the Medicare For All proposal endorsed by some of his Democratic challengers.

Many female Democrats were wearing white as tribute to the suffragettes who helped win the vote for women, while a number in the party were wearing red, white and blue-striped lapel pins to highlight climate change, saying Trump has rolled back environmental safeguards and given free rein to polluters.

Several Democratic lawmakers, including California Rep. Maxine Waters and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, announced in advance of the speech that they would be skipping it, with the high-profile New York freshman tweeting that she would “not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was delivering the party’s official response and, in excerpts released ahead of the speech, was to draw a contrast between actions taken by Democrats and the president’s rhetoric.

“It doesn’t matter what the president says about the stock market,” Whitmer says. “What matters is that millions of people struggle to get by or don’t have enough money at the end of the month after paying for transportation, student loans, or prescription drugs.”

Parkland dad backing gun control shouts at Trump

A protester has interrupted President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech by shouting at him to do something about gun violence.

The protester appeared to be Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, was among 17 people killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

Guttenberg is a well-known visitor to Capitol Hill advocating for gun violence prevention. He interrupted a section of Trump’s speech about support for the Second Amendment, and he was removed from the House visitors’ gallery.

Guttenberg was the guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s. He tweeted his thanks to her earlier Tuesday for the invitation and her “commitment”to “dealing with gun violence.”

Democrats chant at Trump during State of Union

When President Donald Trump called on Congress during his State of the Union speech to send him legislation to lower prescription drug prices, House Democrats had a ready response.

“H.R. 3! H.R. 3!” chanted Democrats, jumping to their feet Tuesday night, holding up three fingers.

That was a reference to the House-passed bill that requires the federal government’s Medicare program to negotiate for lower prices on insulin and other must-have drugs Americans rely on.

The legislation is formally named the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, after the late House Oversight Committee chairman from Maryland.

Trump derided the ailing Cummings’ Baltimore-area district as a “rat and rodent infested mess” last summer, when the chairman was conducting oversight on the president’s immigration policies and child and family detentions at the border.

The drug price reduction bill was passed by the House in December on a largely party-line vote. It is one of many major bills sitting untouched in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Interior secretary is the designated survivor

The White House says Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is the designated survivor for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union.

The designation refers to the practice of ensuring that one Cabinet secretary does not attend the annual speech in case of a national emergency or devastating tragedy.

The designated survivor would lead the government if other officials are killed or incapacitated.

Bernhardt was named interior secretary last year, replacing Ryan Zinke, who resigned.

Awkward moment between Trump, Pelosi at speech

Did President Donald Trump decline to shake Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hand?

At the start of the State of the Union address Tuesday it appeared that Pelosi extended her hand to Trump, a gesture amid the divisive impeachment proceedings.

The president was presenting folios to Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence as he arrived for the evening speech when it appears she reached for the shake. At the same time, Trump turned away from her to face the audience of lawmakers gathered for the annual address.

Pelosi gave a look.

The speaker led House Democrats in impeaching Trump last month on charges he abused power and obstructed Congress in the Ukraine matter. The Senate is poised to acquit him Wednesday of the two articles of impeachment.

Venezuela opposition leader at Trump’s State of the Union

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó attended President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night on Capitol Hill.

The invitation came as Guaidó has been trying to win face time with Trump, his most important international ally. Guaidó’s visit to Miami on Saturday rounded out a two-week world tour that took him first to Colombia, then across Europe and Canada, where he held meetings seeking more international help to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro from office.

Guaidó helped usher in a rare moment of unity at the speech.

Democrats and Republicans applauded Tuesday night as Guaidó stood as Trump called him the legitimate president of the South American nation.

Guaidó is the leader of the opposition-led National Assembly in Venezuela. He was a last-minute surprise invited guest of Trump’s.

The U.S. and more than 50 other nations believe the 2018 reelection of President Nicolás Maduro was illegitimate and say Guaidó should be considered president under the Venezuelan constitution. Trump in his speech called Maduro a “tyrant.”

Venezuela has been a top priority in Latin America for the Trump administration, which a year ago was the first among 60 governments to throw its weight behind Guaidó after he launched a campaign to oust President Nicolás Maduro from power.

U.S. officials have called Maduro a “dictator,” and hit the state-run Venezuelan oil firm PDVSA with sanctions and other financial measures designed to push out the socialist leader. However, Maduro remains in control, having faced down a coup attempt, a brief renewal of mass anti-government protests and U.S. sanctions.

Earlier, the White House said Ivan Simonovis, the former police chief in Caracas who was imprisoned in 2004 and held in captivity for nearly 15 years, also would be a guest. Simonovis was sentenced to 30 years in prison on what he considered trumped-up charges of ordering police to fire on pro-government demonstrators during a coup against then-President Hugo Chavez.

Simonovis, Venezuela’s most famous SWAT cop, escaped last year and was brought to the United States, His detention has been a rallying cry of the opposition that considered Maduro’s 2018 election a fraud and blamed his socialist policies for the nation’s crisis, which is driving mass migration and threatening the region’s stability.

Limbaugh awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

President Donald Trump announced the award during his State of the Union address Tuesday night. First lady Melania Trump presented the award to Limbaugh. The two sat next to each other in the House visitors’ gallery. A bearded Limbaugh stood and saluted President Trump as the award was announced.

Limbaugh, a staunch Trump supporter, announced Monday that he is battling advanced lung cancer.

Trump said the diagnosis was not good news, but added: “What is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.’’

Trump thanked Limbaugh for “decades of tireless devotion to our country” and said the award recognized the millions of people a day Limbaugh speaks to and inspires, as well as his charity work.

Sans gavel, Roberts is among 4 justices at Trump speech

Chief Justice John Roberts, lately a fixture at the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, was among the four Supreme Court justices in the House of Representatives for the president’s State of the Union speech Tuesday.

Roberts has never missed a presidential address to Congress since joining the court in 2005, and arrived to the opposite end of the Capitol from the Senate Tuesday evening, despite an apparent cold he picked up during the trial over which he is presiding.

Trump stopped to greet Roberts, shaking his hand and speaking with him as Roberts stood stone-faced. The justice said, “Thank you,” as the president walked past.

Roberts’ predecessor, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, was not present for the State of the Union speech President Bill Clinton delivered during his Senate impeachment trial in 1999. But Rehnquist rarely showed up for the speeches, and Roberts once related that Rehnquist missed one State of the Union because it conflicted with the watercolor class he was taking at the local YMCA.

Three other justices, Elena Kagan and Trump appointees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined Roberts Tuesday. Kagan also has been to every State of the Union address since she became a justice in 2010. Gorsuch and Kavanaugh also have perfect attendance, though they have shorter records. It is common for justices to be present for speeches by the president who chose them.

Justice Stephen Breyer often attends, but he is traveling and has flu-like symptoms that prevented him from returning to Washington for the speech, the court said.

Breyer was the only justice to cross the street from the court to the Capitol for at least four presidential speeches, including President George W. Bush’s first speech to Congress in 2001. That took place a couple months after the justices voted 5-4 in Bush v. Gore to stop Florida’s ballot recount and ensure Bush’s presidency. Breyer had opposed halting the recount.

In 2000, no justice attended Clinton’s last State of the Union. Breyer had the flu then, too.

Democratic women wear white for Trump’s speech

Many Democratic women are wearing white Tuesday to align themselves with suffragettes a century after women won the right to vote. Some also are wearing green Equal Rights Amendment pins ahead of an expected House vote on the issue this month. Look, too, for red-white-and-blue-striped lapel pins to highlight climate change.

Many Republicans got to the chamber early to snag aisle seats. The coveted positions allow them to shake hands on camera with the president as he makes his way down the aisle. This year, Trump is speaking on the eve of his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress when dealing with Ukraine.

The acquittal vote will resolve impeachment in Congress, but voters will have the final say this election year. Every member of the House, a third of the Senate and Trump himself are up for reelection.

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