Republicans want AG to determine whether Pelosi committed criminal act for ripping up Trump speech

Nancy Pelosi tears up President Trump’s speech script behind him as he finishes State of the Union

Nancy Rips Speech

Two House GOP leaders have officially called on Attorney General William Barr to determine whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi broke federal law when she ripped up President Trump's State of the Union speech earlier this year.


Pelosi famously tore the speech at the conclusion of Trump's February address in the House chamber "because it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives," Pelosi said at the time. "I tore it up. I was trying to find one page with truth on it. I couldn't."

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi rips a copy of US President Donald Trump’s speech after he delivers the State of the Union address at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Republican Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer, R-Ala., and Republican Study Committee Chairman Mike Johnson, R-La., wrote a letter to Barr on Tuesday asking he deliver a definitive answer on whether "Pelosi committed a criminal act by destroying an official copy of the State of the Union speech delivered to her" by Trump.

“Nancy Pelosi’s famous tantrum on the House floor was more than disgraceful; she violated her responsibility to preserve official documents delivered to the House of Representatives,” Palmer said in a statement. “We ask the Attorney General to review this scandalous outburst, not simply because it offended every American, but because it set a precedent for radical politicians to hijack state events for partisan performance art and possibly break the law with, thus far, no consequence.”

The GOP lawmakers believe Pelosi could have violated 18 U.S.C. § 2071 which deals with the mutilation of official federal records and sets a criminal penalty of destroying documents of up to three years in prison.

The allegation against Pelosi isn't new. Immediately following the State of the Union, some conservative figures charged that Pelosi may have broken the law by ripping up her copy of Trump's speech. Now, the lawmakers say they want this issue finally resolved.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, pointed out that the lawmakers' letter to Barr "embarrassingly" lists the wrong year of the State the Union. [The letter says it was Feb. 4, 2019, rather than 2020]. And he referenced a PolitiFact check that rated the claim of Pelosi violating the law as "pants on fire!"

The fact-checkers found that a printout of a speech isn't an official record and Pelosi could do what she pleased with the papers.

"Her copy of the State of the Union address is not a government record or government property at all," Douglas Cox, professor of law at the City of New York University School of Law, told PolitiFact at the time. "It is personal property."

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

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