'Illegal' for Pelosi to tear up State of the Union speech, Trump claims

Republicans claim the speaker destroyed an official document.

President Donald Trump said on Friday that is was "illegal" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to tear up her copy of his State of the Union address, echoing an allegation other Republicans have made.

"Well, I thought it was a terrible thing when she ripped up the speech,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a trip to North Carolina. “First of all, it's an official document. You're not allowed, it's illegal what she did. She broke the law.”

“I thought it was terrible," Trump said. I thought it was very disrespectful to the chamber, to the country.”

President Trump repeated other Republicans' claims Pelosi violated the law. GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz announced on Twitter that he has filed an ethics complaint against Pelosi, accusing of “a potential violation of the law.” Gaetz refers to a U.S. code that makes it illegal for public officers to conceal or destroy records.

Notable legal scholar Jonathan Turley criticized the decision by Pelosi, but in a blog post, said that it was not in fact against the law.

"This is a courtesy copy that is not filed or deposited with the House. Judging from the fact that I could not find evidence that these copies were archived with the House, I assume that past Speakers have kept the copies as personal property," Turley wrote. "While years ago I wrote an academic study of such records and criticized the view of presidential papers as personal property, a court would likely view this document as the personal property of Pelosi."

In a news conference Thursday, Pelosi explained why she tore up the address, saying that as she read through the speech, she saw the “compilation of falsehoods” and though of something that could indicate to Americans that the speech was “not the truth.”

Pelosi railed against the president’s use of guests at the State of the Union and what she called “misrepresentations” in his address.

“So it was, in my view, a manifesto of mistruths, falsehoods, blatantly really dangerous to the well-being of the American people if they believed what he said,” Speaker Pelosi said Thursday. “So again, we do not want chamber of the House of Representatives to be used as a backdrop for one of his reality shows with unreality in his presentation.”