A panel of commentators told MSNBC on Wednesday that the president likely doesn’t even understand the doctrine of separation of powers, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow President Donald Trump to use the House of Representatives to deliver his State of the Union during his government shutdown.
The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel said that despite tradition, delivering the State of the Union as an address didn’t begin until Woodrow Wilson, but even so the decision rested with the House Speaker.
“Undergirding all of this is that it’s up to the Speaker of the House and up to both chambers to pass a resolution inviting the other branch of government to come into Congress,” Weigel said. “The president can’t just walk in. You have to kinda wonder how much the White House understands this.” He added that Trump “often assumes he has power which he does not constitutionally have.”
Weigel said that having “a pretty pliant Republican House for a couple of years” had left Trump ill-prepared to deal with a co-equal as tough as Pelosi, and that the president’s vaunted business acumen wouldn’t help him either. Fellow guest former Maryland Democratic Congresswoman Donna Edwards agreed, saying that Trump hadn’t “counted on having an opposition party in the House.”
“It seems like we are in a debate of etiquette and protocol,” Hans Nichols chimed in from the White House. “The president doesn’t understand that it’s Nancy Pelosi holding the invites, she’s holding the dance card.”
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