Gaetz: Pelosi May Have Broken the Law in Ripping Up Speech

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Posted: Feb 06, 2020 7:30 AM
Gaetz: Pelosi May Have Broken the Law in Ripping Up Speech

Source: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

While Democrats are applauding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for ripping apart President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, Republicans don't want to let her get away with the move. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) announced Wednesday that he is filing an ethics complaint against the speaker, while Rep. Paul Gosar said he is introducing a resolution to censure her. Others, meanwhile, called on her to resign.

“BREAKING: I’m filing an ethics complaint against @SpeakerPelosi for destroying @realDonaldTrump’s State of the Union speech,” Gaetz tweeted. “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.”

Gaetz posted a copy of his letter to Ethics Committee Chairman Ted Deutch and Ranking Member Kenny Marchant in which he asked that an investigation be opened into “Speaker Pelosi’s flagrant violation of decorum as defined in clauses 1 and 2 of House Rule XXIII, and request a criminal referral for her potential violation of 18 U.S.C. §2071 (Concealment, removal, or mutilation of documents), following President Trump’s recent State of the Union address of February 4, 2020. Her unseemly behavior certainly warrants censure.”

The Florida lawmaker said after the ethics probe the matter should be referred to the Justice Department “for further investigation and prosecution.”

He said Pelosi may have committed a crime by violating 18 U.S.C. §2071, which prohibits the willful destruction of paper or documents “filed or deposited” in public office. 

“There is no question that Speaker Pelosi ‘mutilated, obliterated, or destroyed’ the copy of the President’s address provided to her at the beginning of the evening,” Gaetz wrote, quoting the law.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), meanwhile, said he was introducing a resolution to censure the speaker.

“In response to her classless outburst, I’ve decided to introduce a resolution to censure & condemn Speaker Pelosi,” Gosar tweeted Wednesday. “In a new low, she violated the Code of Official Conduct requiring Members ‘behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.'”

Others, including Rep. Lee Zeldin and George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, who testified in the House impeachment inquiry, called on Pelosi to resign.