WASHINGTO DC - U.S. President Donald Trump has swept aside security concerns about the upcoming State of the Union address.
The president on Wednesday vowed to go ahead with the speech, and deliver it from Capitol Hill. He says he has been assurred there are no security concerns in relation to the speech being delivered in Congress.
The decision follows a request by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to postpone the speech, or deliver it from another location, because of the government shutdown, which she said would impact on the relevant agencies' capacity to provide security.
In a letter sent to Pelosi on Wednesday, the president noted that her traditional invitation to address the nation at the end of the month was sent on 3 January 2019, which was after the shutdown had commenced.
He said he had already accepted the invitation.
"I then received another letter from you dated January 16, 2019, wherein you expressed concerns regarding security during the State of the Union Address due to the ahutdown. Even prior to asking, I was contacted by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Secret Service to explain that there would be absolutely no problem regarding security with respect to the event. They have since confirmed this publicly," the presidenrt said in his letter to the Speaker.
"Accordingly, there are no security concerns regarding the State of the Union Address. Therefore, I will be honoring your invitation, and fulfilling my Constitutional duty, to deliver important information to the people and Congress of the United States of America regarding the State of our Union."
"It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!" the president concluded in his letter to Ms. Pelosi.
The House Speaker however was undeterred. In a prompt response, Pelosi told Trump he could not give the address from Congress.
"Again, I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened," she said in a letter to the president.
Representative Jamie Raskin from Maryland, a former law and legislation university professor, clarified the situation. "He's an uninvited guest. This chamber doesn't belong to him. We have a separation of powers here," he said. "We make the laws here, and his job is to make sure the laws are faithfully executed. He hasn't done that, and he's not invited."
The president when asked at a White House event later on Wednesday about Pelosi's move, responded: "It's a disgrace."
On Twitter he then posted a tweet conceding he woiuld not be abkle to give the address as planned. "I am not looking for an alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a 'great' State of the Union Address in the near future!" he posted.