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Rep. Matt Gaetz files ethics complaint against Nancy Pelosi over torn-up speech

“Nobody is above the law," said Gaetz, one of President Donald Trump’s most ardent supporters in Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., tears her copy of President Donald Trump's s State of the Union address after he delivered it to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. Vice President Mike Pence is at left.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., tears her copy of President Donald Trump's s State of the Union address after he delivered it to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. Vice President Mike Pence is at left. [ PATRICK SEMANSKY | AP ]
Published Feb. 6, 2020
Updated Feb. 6, 2020

Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, went on Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle on Wednesday night to announce he is filing an ethics complaint against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her ripping up a copy of President Trump’s State of the Union speech.

Related: Watch: Nancy Pelosi shreds Donald Trump’s speech. On the podium.

“She disgraced the House of Representatives, she embarrassed our country and she destroyed official records,” Gaetz said on Laura Ingraham’s show. “The law does not allow the speaker of the House to destroy the records of the House and the rules of the House do not permit some little temper tantrum just because you don’t like what the president of the United States says.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill on Dec. 12, 2019.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, on Capitol Hill on Dec. 12, 2019. [ ALEX BRANDON | AP ]

Then he went on Twitter and shared the filing:

"BREAKING: I’m filing an ethics complaint against @SpeakerPelosi for destroying @realDonaldTrump’s State of the Union speech. Her conduct was beneath the dignity of the House, and a potential violation of law (18 USC 2071). Nobody is above the law. She must be held accountable.”

After Trump finished his speech Tuesday night, Pelosi stood on the dais behind him and tore up a copy of the speech he handed her earlier.

Claims circulated on Twitter suggesting Pelosi broke the law by destroying the document.

“Nancy Pelosi may have just committed a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2071, Section 2071 (a) when she ripped up President Trump’s State of the Union address,” Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk wrote in a Feb. 4 tweet. “This violation is punishable by up to three years in prison.”

PolitiFact fact-checked the conservative pundit’s claim and ruled it Pants on Fire:

But when we asked a number of legal experts about what Kirk said, we found that their answer was unanimous: Kirk’s claim is wrong.

“I take it that this is a printout of the Trump speech, in which case it is absurd to suggest that Pelosi can be prosecuted for doing with it whatever she pleases,” said Heidi Kitrosser, a law professor at the University of Minnesota.

Gaetz is a stalwart supporter of the president.

“This is a frivolous stunt from a congressman desperate to get back in the president’s good graces after he voted with Democrats and against the president on Iran," said Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "We appreciate the irony of this particular Member making judgments about the ‘dignity of the House.’ ”