State of the Union snubs: Trump spurns Pelosi handshake, she tears up his speech

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Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tears up a copy of the State of the Union address that President Donald Trump just delivered, as Vice-President Mike Pence looks on, on Feb 4, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - United States President Donald Trump snubbed House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday (Feb 4), declining to shake her hand as he handed her a paper copy of his State of the Union speech.

The Republican President spurned the outstretched hand of Ms Pelosi, the Democrat's leading elected official in Washington, upon meeting her for the first time since she stormed out of a White House meeting four months ago.

Ms Pelosi appeared to be taken aback. Aides to both said they had not spoken since their meeting in October.

She avoided citing the customary "high privilege and distinct honour" that usually accompanies the speaker's introduction of the President to Congress.

"Members of Congress, the President of the United States," was all she said in introducing Mr Trump, a former real estate mogul and reality TV star-turned-politician.

At the end of his 80-minute speech to a joint session of Congress, Ms Pelosi stood and ripped apart her copy of the remarks he had handed her as millions watched on television.

She later told reporters it was "the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative".

Ms Kayleigh McEnany, campaign spokesman for Mr Trump, said of Ms Pelosi: "Her hatred for @realdonaldtrump has blinded her to the repulsive nature of her smug, elitist behaviour."

In a vote due to begin at 4pm EST on Wednesday (5am on Thursday, Singapore time), the Republican-led Senate is expected to acquit Mr Trump of impeachment charges that he abused his powers and obstructed Congress.

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