Fla. Republican Demands Criminal Probe Of Pelosi For Mutilating Trump Speech

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rips up pages of the State of the Union speech after U.S. President Donald Trump finishes his State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives on February 04, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump delivers his third State of the Union to the nation the night before the U.S. Senate is set to vote in his impeachment trial. Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. called for a House Ethics Committee investigation of Pelosi and a referral of her action to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation. Gaetz cited a law that makes it a crime for anyone having custody of certain federal records to mutilate, obliterate or destroy them.

“There is no question that Speaker Pelosi ‘mutilated, obliterated, or destroyed’ the copy of the President’s address provided to her,” said a letter to the House Ethics Committee signed by Gaetz, a staunch and sometimes boisterous defender of Trump.

“The video evidence is clear and abundant, and the Speaker herself told reporters that she tore up the document,” the letter said. “Nobody is above the law,” Gaetz declared in a tweet accompanying the letter.

Gaetz and Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., appeared on Fox News host Laura Ingraham’s show Wednesday night to drive home their demands.

“She disgraced the House of Representatives, she embarrassed our country and she destroyed official records,” Gaetz said.

Among the many problems with Gaetz’s proposed prosecution is that a copy of a speech, even a speech by the president, is not an official record, which means Pelosi was not the custodian of an official record. The law is designed to preserve documents and other official materials in places like the National Archives.

Ingraham, while equally outraged by Pelosi’s behavior, is a law school graduate who clerked at the Supreme Court. She opposed Gaetz’s assertion that Pelosi broke the law, telling him, “Well, it’s not really a formal record because it’s a copy of the speech that the president signed . . . This is cute, but it’s not going to work.”

Gaetz and Zeldin did not raise the criminal referral again during the interview, but turned their attention instead to the dignity of the House and what Gaetz called Pelosi’s “real impulse control problems.”

The notion that Pelosi illegally destroyed public records appears to have originally surfaced in a tweet by Trump friend Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative group Turning Point USA, and was quickly debunked by various fact-checkers.

(c) 2020, The Washington Post · Fred Barbash



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