Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tore up the advance copy of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address after the president finished speaking Tuesday night. The move came after Trump did not shake her outstretched hand at the beginning of the address.
Pelosi and Vice President Pence (who also serves as the president of the Senate) stood behind Trump while he made his address. After he finished, Pence clapped as Trump nodded and conversed with nearby audience members, but Pelosi made quick work of shredding the copy of the speech before her.
After receiving that copy of the speech at the beginning of the night’s proceedings, Pelosi extended her hand. Trump did not shake it, but he was already turning to face Congress and may have not seen her gesture. It’s worth noting Trump did not shake Pence’s hand either.
During the address, Pelosi seemed to visibly react to Trump’s comments about her home state of California, and at times appeared to mouth messages to Democrats to maintain order.
The speech-ripping moment lit up Twitter almost immediately. On the left, some praised her, like Charlotte Clymer of the Human Rights Campaign, who called her a “hero” and a “legend.” On the right, Pelosi was vilified. Radio host Michael Savage declared she had melted down in front of the world.
When asked why she ripped up the speech, Pelosi told Fox News, “Because it was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives.”
The White House issued a statement after the address, stating, “For such a really big night, she sure behaved pretty small.”
The media seemed surprised by Pelosi’s actions as well.
NBC News’ Lester Holt called it a “stunning moment” while colleague Chuck Todd mused instead on the contents of the ripped paper: “It’s so far removed from a traditional state of the Union at this point … It’ s just timing that we’re calling it a State of the Union. This was a conservative campaign checklist of making sure you hit every special interest group.”
Over on Fox News, Martha MacCallum reacted simply by saying, “That is something.” Brit Hume noted he thought there was “an element of rage” in Pelosi’s action.
This isn’t Pelosi’s first time creating a GIF-able, viral moment during the State of the Union. Last year, she infamously clapped in Trump’s face, wearing an expression that launched a thousand memes.
She didn’t do everything the same as previous years, though. The Speaker of the House typically starts the evening saying, “I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the President of the United States.”
Instead, this year, Pelosi gave an abridged introduction: “Members of Congress, the President of the United States.”
Watch Pelosi’s shredding above.