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Trump Canceled Flight as Pelosi Was Due to Depart

Newser — Rob Quinn

President Trump's extraordinary cancellation of Nancy Pelosi's trip overseas with a congressional delegation happened in dramatic fashion, sources say. Insiders tell Fox that Trump denied use of the military aircraft minutes before the delegation was set to depart the Capitol for Brussels and Afghanistan to meet with NATO leaders and troops.

The aircraft had been scheduled to leave at 3pm Thursday, but Trump said in a letter around 2pm that the "public relations exercise" should be postponed until after the government shutdown is over.

Politico reports that after Trump's letter was released, a charter bus carrying Democratic lawmakers who were supposed to be on the trip ended up being chased around the Capitol by reporters. Pelosi remained in her office. More:

  • Melania Trump is still flying. Hours after Pelosi's flight was nixed, Politico Playbook co-author Jake Sherman tweeted that he had heard air traffic controllers say EXEC1F was headed to Palm Beach airport.

"EXEC1F is typically the callsign for a plane with the first lady on board," he noted.

  • Davos trip called off. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that an American delegation's trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, had been called off by Trump "out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay and to ensure his team can assist as needed," CNN reports.
  • Pelosi spokesman hits back.

Drew Hamill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, said the delegation's purpose was similar to that of Trump's trip to Iraq, which also happened during the shutdown.

"The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation and thanks to our men and women in uniform for their service and dedication, and to obtain critical national security and intelligence briefings from those on the front lines," he tweeted.

  • Criticism from Congress.

Trump's move was criticized by some Republicans as well as Democrats, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted that the move was "inappropriate," despite Pelosi's "very irresponsible" threat to cancel the State of the Union address.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine called Trump's decision "unbelievably petty," while others said disclosing the delegation's itinerary raised serious security concerns.

  • Democrats defiant. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff said Congress is a "coequal branch of government" that won't be bullied into calling off the trip altogether, the New York Times reports.

"We’re not going to allow the president of the United States to tell the Congress it can’t fulfill its oversight responsibilities, it can’t ensure that our troops have what they need whether our government is open or closed."

  • Praise from the right.

At the Resurgent, Erick Erickson praises Trump's letter to Pelosi as "hilarious" and "possibly the greatest of his presidency." In the letter, Trump told Pelosi that she was free to make her journey by flying commercial.

  • Pure pettiness.

Colby Itkowitz at the Washington Post predicts that with this kind of behavior, the shutdown may never end. "The state of government shutdown negotiations is now just two adults treating each other like children," she writes.

"What shiny toy can they take away next as punishment?"

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