U.S. Speaker Pelosi accused President Trump of putting American civilians in danger
Washington. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday accused President Donald Trump of putting American troops and civilians working in Afghanistan in danger by publicizing a planned congressional trip to the war-torn country, as tensions between the leaders spiked on the 28th day of a partial government shutdown.
Trump later on Friday signalled he would turn his attention from the fight over congressional travel back to the budget standoff that has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers without paychecks, posting on Twitter that he would make a “major announcement” on Saturday at 3 p.m. EST (2000 GMT) on the “humanitarian crisis” on the country’s southern border and on the partial shutdown.
The White House rejected Pelosi’s charge of endangering troops and civilians.
The Republican Trump administration, which on Thursday had blocked Democrat Pelosi from making the trip to Afghanistan, on Friday slapped a blanket ban on all U.S. congressional travel on government-owned or operated aircraft while the shutdown continues.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the administration was just trying to keep Pelosi in town so that negotiations could take place to try to end the partial shutdown, at four weeks already the longest in U.S. history.
“If she did (leave the country), it would all but guarantee the fact that the negotiations couldn’t take place over the weekend and federal workers – 800,000 federal workers – wouldn’t receive their paychecks because she wasn’t here to help make a deal,” Sanders told reporters. She added that it was “outrageous” that Pelosi would accuse Trump “of putting any life in jeopardy.”
But Democrats said no negotiations were going on. “We have received no requests to meet from the White House,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.
Trump on Thursday had blocked Pelosi from using a military plane for a congressional trip with other high-ranking Democrats to NATO headquarters in Brussels and then Afghanistan.
Pelosi’s office then was prepared to fly commercially – an idea Trump himself raised – but on Friday morning announced the trip was being postponed because the administration had leaked details that could endanger the trip or the troops the speaker had planned to visit. A White House official denied this.
“We had a report from Afghanistan … that the president outing our trip had made the scene on the ground much more dangerous because it was just a signal to the bad actors that we’re coming,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.
“You never give advance notice of going into a battle area. You just never do,” she said. “Perhaps the president’s inexperience did not have him understand that protocol. The people around him should have known that because that’s very dangerous.”
A White House official, speaking earlier on condition of anonymity, denied the administration leaked Pelosi’s travel plans, adding, “When the speaker of the House and about 20 others from Capitol Hill decide to book their own commercial flights to Afghanistan, the world is going to find out.”