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story.lead_photo.caption House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday canceled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying President Donald Trump had caused a security risk by talking about the trip.

It was the latest twist in what has become a Washington game of brinkmanship between Pelosi and Trump, playing out against the stalled negotiations over how to end the partial government shutdown.

Earlier in the week, Pelosi had asked Trump to reschedule his Jan. 29 State of the Union address, citing security issues at a time when the Homeland Security Department and other agencies remain unfunded.

Trump responded by canceling the military plane that was to have carried Pelosi and a congressional delegation to Afghanistan on the previously undisclosed troop visit. Trump suggested she travel by commercial plane instead.

Trump had belittled the trip as a "public relations event" — even though he had just made a similar warzone stop — and said it would be best if Pelosi remained in Washington to negotiate to reopen the government.

"Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative," wrote Trump, who had been smarting since Pelosi, the day before, called on him to postpone State of the Union address.

On Friday, Pelosi announced that her plan to travel by commercial plane had been "leaked" by the White House.

Spokesman Drew Hammill said Pelosi and accompanying lawmakers were prepared to take a commercial flight but canceled after the State Department warned that publicity over the visit had "significantly increased the danger to the delegation and to the troops, security, and other officials supporting the trip."

The political tit-for-tat between Trump and Pelosi laid bare how the government-wide crisis has devolved into an intensely pointed clash between two leaders determined to prevail. It took place as hundreds of thousands of federal workers go without pay and Washington's routine protocols — a president's speech to Congress, a lawmaker's official trip — become collateral damage.

Denying military aircraft to a senior lawmaker — let alone the speaker, who is second in line to the presidency after the vice president, traveling to a combat region — is very rare.

Hammill said the speaker planned to travel to Afghanistan and Brussels to thank service members and obtain briefings on national security and intelligence "from those on the front lines." He noted Trump had traveled to Iraq during the shutdown, which began Dec. 22, and said a Republican-led congressional trip also had taken place.

Trump's trip to Iraq after Christmas was not disclosed in advance for security reasons.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California slammed Trump for revealing the closely held travel plans.

"I think the president's decision to disclose a trip the speaker's making to a war zone was completely and utterly irresponsible in every way," Schiff said.

Some Republicans expressed frustration. Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted, "One sophomoric response does not deserve another." He called Pelosi's State of the Union move "very irresponsible and blatantly political" but said Trump's reaction was "also inappropriate."

There have been few signs of progress in shutdown negotiations. On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence and senior adviser Jared Kushner dashed to the Capitol late in the day for a meeting with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And the State Department instructed all U.S. diplomats in Washington and elsewhere to return to work next week with pay, saying it had found money for their salaries at least temporarily.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wanted Pelosi to stay in Washington before Tuesday, a deadline to prepare the next round of paychecks for federal workers.

The White House also canceled plans for a presidential delegation to travel to an economic forum in Switzerland next week, citing the shutdown. And they said future congressional trips would be postponed until the shutdown is resolved, though it was not immediately clear if any such travel — which often is not disclosed in advance — was coming up.

Trump has still not said how he will handle Pelosi's attempt to have him postpone his State of the Union address until the government is reopened so workers can be paid for providing security for the grand Washington tradition.

Pelosi told reporters earlier Thursday: "Let's get a date when government is open. Let's pay the employees. Maybe he thinks it's OK not to pay people who do work. I don't."

Pelosi reiterated she is willing to negotiate money for border security once the government is reopened, but she said Democrats remain opposed to Trump's long-promised wall.

The shutdown, the longest ever, entered its 28th day on Friday. The previous longest was 21 days in 1995-96, under President Bill Clinton.

In a notice to staff, the State Department said it can pay most of its employees beginning Sunday or Monday for their next pay period. They will not be paid for time worked since the shutdown began until the situation is resolved, said the notice.

The new White House travel ban did not extend to the first family.

About two hours after Trump grounded Pelosi and her delegation, an Air Force-modified Boeing 757 took off from Joint Base Andrews outside Washington with the call sign "Executive One Foxtrot," reserved for the first family when the president is not traveling with them. It landed just before 7 p.m. at Palm Beach International Airport, less than 2 miles from the president's private club.

A White House spokesperson did not answer questions about the flight.


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Archived Comments

  • Murphy01
    January 18, 2019 at 10:38 a.m.

    Seriously? She's as big a fool as Trump is.

  • Skeptic1
    January 18, 2019 at 10:59 a.m.

    This despicable power hungry witch needs to ride her broom into the sunset. Her legacy will be that she destroyed the Democrat party, and her appointing the Muslim anti-Israel woman to the foreign relations committee says all we need to know about her agenda. The fact she was even planning on going on that trip with the government shutdown says all we need to know about her priorities and her very personal agenda.

  • RBear
    January 18, 2019 at 11:13 a.m.

    Spokesman Drew Hammill said Pelosi and accompanying lawmakers were prepared to take a commercial flight but canceled after the State Department warned that publicity over the visit had "significantly increased the danger to the delegation and to the troops, security, and other officials supporting the trip."
    Trump just compromised the security of Pelosi and other congressional members by making public their trip for his own personal motives. Whereas Pelosi was just trying to be mindful of the risk imposed by a SOTU during the shutdown when agencies that are impacted would be stretched even thinner, he puts our congressional leaders at a security risk should they have traveled. Pelosi even said he could deliver the SOTU from the Oval Office, reducing the risk to everyone.

  • GeneralMac
    January 18, 2019 at 11:39 a.m.

    memo to Ms Pelosi........BOTOX is no longer helping you

  • sofferssbcglobalnet
    January 18, 2019 at 11:53 a.m.

    Way to go Mr. President!! Speaker Pelosi has no business leaving the country until the government shutdown ends. Moreover, the stop in Brussels for refueling is bogus. Sounds more like a shopping excursion. The routing to Afghanistan is further South as are refueling stops. Then again, not much shopping opportunities on a military base in German or Italy.

  • Illinoisroy
    January 18, 2019 at 12:27 p.m.

    GMac, misogynistic, bigoted, homophobe - Trifecta
    Have you booked your trip to south America yet?

  • mrcharles
    January 18, 2019 at 1:40 p.m.

    Boy the master , non elite, negotiator has really showed out his skills. His Syria actions, not so good kudos from his own ILKS, but a big thumbs up from , what's his name, the doll eyed killer , Putin. You will be known by your friends.

    Raise your hand if you sleep better knowing N. Korea and its threat is gone due to the historic smiles of both un human and putin's puppet !

    Clearly the useful idiot of the gop , has about run his course, and then the growing WTF calls from the party who would make fine fine dixiecrats will rise up and , say, I knew him not, just like Peter.

    Well, well. NP has had her way with DT. And you demon infested pigs on your way to the oceanside, keep up the nasty word attacks, as that is all you got to use to support the man who may have to seek asylum in russia.

    putin in his wildest dreams I bet never thought how useful DT would be to make merica a laughing stock of the world, easily manipulated by dictators and to make chaos a daily observation of DT and his lesser imps.

  • Packman
    January 18, 2019 at 2:43 p.m.

    Pelosi's lying through her heavily botoxed lips. She offers ZERO evidence to support her allegation and the White House vehemently denies it. But gosh, 20 or so House members and their respective flunkies ALL booking ommercial flights to the same place...... Well, hell's bells, how in world would THAT ever leak to the press? SMH. SMMFH.
    Who's ya daddy, Nancy? Donald F'ing Trump! MAGA baby, one pi$$ed off lib at a time. But it 2020 it will be MLCA - Making Liberals Cry Again. BWHAAAHAAAHAAAHAAAHAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

  • tomar51
    January 18, 2019 at 3:12 p.m.

    Never would have thought that Pubes would put party over Country. Seems like only a month ago that turtle mc was calling for bipartisan over party!!!! Where did that go!!!!

  • DANNY46
    January 18, 2019 at 3:13 p.m.

    She has completely lost her mind!!!