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Trump denies military plane for Pelosi's Afghanistan trip

By Danielle Haynes
Trump denies military plane for Pelosi's Afghanistan trip
President Donald Trump suggested House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fly commercial to a combat zone in Afghanistan. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Within an hour of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's planned departure to visit troops in Afghanistan on Thursday, President Donald Trump withdrew her access to the military plane that was supposed to take her to the combat zone.

Trump cited the government shutdown -- in its 27th day -- as the reason for denying transportation to the delegation of Democrats.

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"In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate," Trump wrote in a letter to Pelosi informing her of his decision.

"I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown," he said.

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"Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative."

Though Trump's letter said Pelosi's planned trip included Afghanistan, Brussels and Egypt, the speaker responded there were no plans to travel to Egypt. The Brussels stop was to refuel the aircraft and meet with NATO commanders and U.S. military leaders.

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Pelosi pointed out that Trump made his own trip to a war zone -- Iraq -- during the shutdown, as did a Republican congressional delegation led by Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York.

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"The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation and thanks to our men and women in uniform for their service and dedication, and to obtain critical national security and intelligence briefings from those on the front lines," Pelosi's spokesman, Drew Hammill, said in a statement.

Trump's letter came one day after Pelosi urged the president to delay his State of the Union address, which is scheduled to take place Jan. 29. She said workers in the U.S. Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security, which have both been affected by the shutdown, have not been paid. The interruption creates security concerns for the president's annual address to a joint session of Congress.

"Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after the government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th," Pelosi wrote in a letter to Trump.

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The president has not directly responded to Pelosi's request to delay the State of the Union.

Later Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump canceled the White House delegation's own trip to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. The president announced one week ago that he would not go because of the shutdown.

"Out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay and to ensure his team can assist as needed, President Trump has canceled his delegation's trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland," she said.

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