Donald Trump slammed over SOTU speech

Donald Trump slammed over SOTU speech

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has delivered a stinging put-down to Donald Trump ahead of his highly anticipated State of the Union address today.

The outspoken Democrat retweeted an article about “what to watch” in the speech with the comment: “None of it.”

Her smackdown has already had more than 44,000 likes, as the day brought new clues over what to expect from the address.

Mr Trump will call for unity and bipartisanship, but that seems unlikely to happen as he prepares to address the controversial topics of funding his border wall and a summit with North Korea.

The President and his aides have hinted he will announce plans to declare a national emergency to fund his wall, amid reports he met with Jared Kushner to discuss the building process.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer also lashed out at Mr Trump for failing America on healthcare and the economy, prompting a pushback from the President.

“I see Schumer is already criticizing my State of the Union speech, even though he hasn’t seen it yet,” Mr Trump hit back on Twitter. “He’s just upset that he didn’t win the Senate, after spending a fortune, like he thought he would. Too bad we weren’t given more credit for the Senate win by the media!”

The speech at 9pm EST (1pm AEDT) will have as its theme “choosing greatness”.

Both sides have invited guests to the address intended to score political points. The Democrats will bring transgender soldiers threatened by Mr Trump’s military ban and undocumented workers recently laid off from his properties.

Ms Ocasio Cortez will bring an activist who confronted a Republican senator over Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and Mr Trump and Melania will host Joshua Trump, an 11-year-old boy who said he was bullied because of his surname.

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway told Fox News’s Fox & Friends it would be interesting to see how Mr Trump’s opponents, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, reacted to his speech.

“Anybody who’s sitting there with their arms folded, harrumphing, looking like they’ve sucked on 12 lemons — that’s on them not him, because he’s calling on unity, he’s calling for working together,” she said on the morning of the address. “They’re going to need to decide if they’re serious about that as well.”

Mr Trump said earlier this week his speech would “cover a lot of territory, but part of it’s going to be unity”.

However, his plea could be tarnished by a divisive announcement on his US-Mexico border wall. “Listen closely to the State of the Union,” he said. “I think you’ll find it very exciting.”

Democrats are sceptical about whether his address will bring America together, after similar promises in previous years.

In his 2017 SOTU speech, Mr Trump announced that “the time for trivial fights is behind us.”

But within days, he had accused former president Barack Obama of wiretapping him in Trump Tower during the election.

In last January’s address, the President called for the nation to “set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.”

But a year on, the US is more divided than ever, particularly following the record 35-day government shutdown, which a majority of Americans opposed.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CNN on Tuesday morning that infrastructure would be “one of the easiest” policies for Democrats and Republicans to look at together.

“Everybody in this country knows that we have crumbling bridges and roads that need to be fixed,” she said. “We also need to have a technology infrastructure that needs to get better. … We’re hopeful that we can come together and can get something done.”

Ms Pelosi also cited infrastructure as a possible issue on which her party could work with the President, in a letter to Democrats on Monday night.

“We look forward to welcoming President Trump as a guest in our House Chamber and hearing his report on the State of the Union,” she wrote. “I am hopeful that tomorrow, we will hear a commitment from the President on issues that have bipartisan support in the Congress and the Country, such as lowering the price of prescription drugs and rebuilding America’s infrastructure.”

Mr Trump last February unveiled a plan for $US1.5 trillion in new spending on infrastructure over the coming decade but relied heavily on states, localities and the private sector to provide the money. Democrats wanted to see far more than his planned $US200 million come from the federal government.

The President will use the speech to outline his plans for the coming year. He is expected to declare near-total triumph over the Islamic State group in Syria and suggest working together on issues such as vocational training.

Every 30 seconds, when the Republicans sitting in front of him agree with something, they will rise to give him a standing ovation — while the Democrats sit in stony silence.

Stacey Abrams, a state congresswoman who narrowly lost the midterms race to become governor of Georgia, will be the first African-American to deliver the State of the Union response.

The Democrat accused her opponent, Brian Kemp, of deliberately suppressing minority voter turnout using his powers as secretary of state. After the election, Mr Trump took the rare step of praising a Democrat. “Stacey Abrams fought brilliantly and hard. She will have a terrific political future!” he tweeted.

Her party has been urging Ms Abrams to run for the US Senate in 2020, hoping her star power could make the state competitive in the presidential race for the first time since Bill Clinton won it in 1992. She has said she intends to seek high office again.

Senator Kamala Harris, who is in the running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, has announced that she will deliver remarks before Mr Trump speaks.

“Senator Harris will push back on the President’s expected message of division, highlight the importance of speaking truth, and outline her vision for a country that works for all its people,” an advisory said.

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