Trump State of the Union 2019
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President Donald Trump appeared before a divided Congress for the first time on Tuesday to appeal to lawmakers' sense of unity at a moment of deepening partisan spite.

His calls for conciliation -- which did not address his role in inflaming partisan divisions -- were met with mostly stone-faced silence from Democrats, who bitterly oppose most of his agenda and whose memories are still fresh with the 35-day government shutdown. It was his first time addressing the Democratic-majority House, and his political nemesis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sat behind his shoulder, offering only sparing applause.

"We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution," Trump told Congress near the beginning of his State of the Union address, claiming he was putting forward "the agenda of the American people."

But the President's address was a tale of two speeches, with appeals to bipartisanship giving way to divisive policy pitches and stern warnings aimed at discouraging Democratic investigations into his administration.

"An economic miracle is taking place in the United States -- and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations," the President said to only a smattering of applause. "If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn't work that way!"

Democrats have promised they will use new investigative powers to probe everything from Trump's tax returns to his policy decisions to members of his Cabinet. The special counsel Robert Mueller is also still pursuing his investigation stemming from Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"Members of Congress: the state of our union is strong," Trump said to Republican applause and chants of "USA."

"That sounds so good," he said.

Despite the partisan jabs, Trump sought to portray his agenda -- one frequently defined by deeply divisive policies -- as a nonpartisan venture.

Sections on fairer drug pricing, criminal justice revisions and combating HIV/AIDS have been included in a nod to areas that have garnered bipartisan support. Yet immigration -- which has divided Washington -- remained a major focus of the speech.

And aiming for bipartisan applause lines, the President focused in on non-controversial, heart-warming tales: a 10-year-old cancer survivor, a trio of World War II veterans and a SWAT police officer who braved a hail of bullets to stop the shooter at a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.

Ahead of the address, Trump was sniping at Democrats who have already dismissed his calls for unity. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer accused the President of "blatant hypocrisy" in remarks on the Senate floor Tuesday.

"He's just upset that he didn't win the Senate, after spending a fortune, like he thought he would," Trump shot back on Twitter.

The President's track record is also clear: Many of his past attempts at bipartisanship have quickly evaporated amid tweeted barbs.

He also made clear he is not wavering on his demand for a $5 billion border wall -- which Democrats have declared a nonstarter -- even as he pulls out rhetorical flourishes envisioning a post-partisan Washington.

After a 35-day government shutdown that resulted in no border wall, Trump vowed to "get it built" during his State of the Union address.

"My administration has sent to Congress a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border. It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling and plans for a new physical barrier or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry," he said.

"In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall but the proper wall never got built. I will get it built," he added.

The annual address from the US Capitol is one of the most familiar set pieces of the presidency, and one of the most watched. Trump believes it can lend his arguments credibility at a vulnerable moment, as his poll numbers trend lower and Democratic challengers -- many of whom will be in his audience -- begin to announce their intentions.

Polls show Trump unpopular among most Americans and a monthlong partial government shutdown over securing funds for the wall only damaged him further. But there are no signs he is backing off his demands and he has said he won't hesitate to close the government again if lawmakers cannot send him a long-term funding measure with the wall funding. They have until February 15 to reach an agreement.

It now appears more likely he'll declare a national emergency on the southern border as a way to secure the wall money without congressional approval. Aides debated whether to announce the move during the State of the Union but ultimately decided against it. Last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Trump during a private meeting that such a move would be unwise.

Asked Tuesday whether Trump will directly address the state of divided government in Washington, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters that he will call for unity with Democrats -- which "implicitly" addresses that divisiveness.

"He is, in the way that he's calling for bipartisanship and unity," she said. "That implicitly addresses the fact that there's a divided government."

"But that doesn't mean they can't work together," she continued, pointing to bipartisan efforts on criminal justice.

President Donald Trump announced during Tuesday's State of the Union address that his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will take place in Vietnam on February 27 and 28.

"We continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped and there has not been a missile launch in more than 15 months. If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea," Trump said.

"Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam," he added.

The city in Vietnam is still being discussed but the contenders are Hanoi and Da Nang, according to a source familiar with the summit's planning.

A source familiar with the negotiations says that North Korea favors Hanoi given that they have an embassy there. The US favors Da Nang given the fact that there was recently an APEC summit in the city which means the US has already conducted a full check.

The State Department special representative to North Korea, Steve Biegun, is heading to Pyongyang on Wednesday to solidify some details related to the summit, including the city where it will take place. He will also press for the North Korean counterpart to attend a series of working level meetings before the summit.

With the summit just three weeks away, follow-up meetings at a working level will be needed, especially as there was no progress on denuclearization during the last visit by a North Korean delegation to Washington, in January.

The North Koreans have also said that they would take steps on denuclearization if the US takes corresponding measures, though Biegun said last week that one of his tasks will be to figure out exactly what that means.

"Exactly what these measures are, are a matter I plan to discuss with my North Korean counterpart during our next set of meetings," Biegun said. "From our side, we are prepared to discuss many actions that could help build trust between our two countries and advance further progress in parallel on the Singapore summit objectives of transforming relations, establishing a permanent peace regime on the peninsula and complete denuclearization."

Biegun also signaled that the US may be open to signing a treaty to end the Korean War.

"President Trump is ready to end this war. It is over. It is done," Biegun said. "We are not going to invade North Korea. We are not seeking to topple the North Korean regime."

Trump and Kim met last year in Singapore, where the North Korean leader agreed to "work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Trump later declared that the meeting had eliminated any nuclear threat posed by North Korea, even though it had produced no verifiable proof that the rogue regime will discontinue its nuclear program.

Trump's announcement Tuesday came just hours after news of a confidential United Nations report that found North Korea is moving its nuclear and ballistic weapons to hide them from potential US military strikes.

The North Korean nuclear and missile program remains intact and shows no change in Pyongyang's behavior, the biannual report says.

Last week, Trump praised North Korea for "tremendous progress" in negotiations and he has routinely touted that progress as evidence of a successful administration in recent months.

"We have made a lot of progress as far as denuclearization's concerned, and we're talking about a lot of different things," he said on January 19.

But Trump's top intelligence officials appeared to contradict that claim during a public hearing last week on Capitol Hill.

"We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival," Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told lawmakers.

His CIA counterpart, Gina Haspel, said during that same hearing that Pyongyang "is committed to developing a long-range nuclear-armed missile that would pose a direct threat to the United States."

Still, Coats acknowledged at the time that North Korea seems to have halted, for now, its missile and nuclear tests, a development Trump also has touted as evidence of successful diplomacy. Haspel indicated that Kim does "value dialogue" with the United States, and the US sees "indications" that he is "trying to navigate a path for some kind of better future" for the North Korean people.

On Monday, CNN reported that the US and South Korea have reached a preliminary agreement on the cost of keeping nearly 30,000 US troops in South Korea, alleviating fears among some of Trump's advisers that he could move to withdraw the troops during his upcoming summit with North Korea's leader.

The agreement could also still get nixed by Trump. It is unclear if the President has personally signed off on what his top negotiators have agreed to. The National Security Council did not respond when asked if Trump has signed off on the current agreement.

Trump has long publicly lamented the cost of stationing US troops around the world and has privately pressed his advisers about the possibility of withdrawing US forces from the country.

His top national security advisers have repeatedly urged him against doing so and stressed the benefit of having US military bases in the region.

Several Democratic female lawmakers cheered President Donald Trump for celebrating the amount of women serving in Congress in an unexpected moment that led to chants of "U-S-A!" on the House floor.

The moment came just after the Democratic caucus erupted in cheers at Trump touting growth in female employment numbers. Female Democratic lawmakers were seen pointing to themselves and the Democrats in the chamber turned toward the newly elected members of Congress to cheer them as symbols of this female job growth.

"No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58% of the newly created jobs last year," Trump said.

Several female lawmakers -- many dressed in the white of the Suffragettes as a symbol of solidarity -- began to stand up and applaud, including Democratic freshmen Reps. Elissa Slotkin, Chrissy Houlahan, Mary Gay Scanlon and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

"You weren't supposed to do that," Trump joked, as Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib smiled and clapped.

"All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before," Trump said to more bipartisan applause.

Trump also directly addressed the record-breaking number of women, mostly Democrats, who were elected in November's midterm election.

"Don't sit yet, you're going to like this -- and exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before," pointing and smiling at the large group of female Democratic representatives, who began their own chant of "U-S-A."

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi extended arms toward them from her seat behind Trump, and Ivanka Trump, who has championed her support for women in the workforce, was among those clapping.

As the applause subsided, the President congratulated the newcomers on their election.

"That's great, really great," Trump said. "And congratulations, that's great."

This article originally ran on wdel.com.

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