President Trump’s decision Thursday to deny House Speaker Nancy Pelosi military aircraft for an overseas trip drew sharp reactions from both Democrats and Republicans.
In a letter to Pelosi, the president “postponed” the trip just minutes before the congressional delegation was set to depart. The “excursion” would be rescheduled following the end of the partial government shutdown, he said.
“In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” Trump wrote. “I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown.”
While Trump pulled the plug on using military aircraft for the journey, he gave the Democratic leader the option of flying commercially.
“Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative,” Trump wrote.
The president's move to cancel Pelosi's trip came after the House speaker's request to delay his annual State of the Union address -- though one White House official claimed the aircraft decision was not a "response" to Pelosi's letter.
Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a frequent supporter of the administration, admonished both Trump and Pelosi for their actions, tweeting: “One sophomoric response does not deserve another.”
“Speaker Pelosi’s threat to cancel the State of the Union is very irresponsible and blatantly political,” Graham continued. “President Trump denying Speaker Pelosi military travel to visit our troops in Afghanistan, our allies in Egypt and NATO is also inappropriate.”
Graham continued on Twitter, writing that he approved of Pelosi’s efforts to visit U.S. troops, but was “very disappointed she’s playing politics with the State of the Union.”
“I wish our political leadership could find the same desire to work for common goals as those who serve our nation in uniform and other capacities,” he tweeted.
There appeared to be some conflicting information as to where the delegation was traveling, however. In his letter, Trump wrote that the trip was to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan.
But Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, tweeted that the group was going to Afghanistan, with “a required stop in Brussels for pilot rest.” But they were not scheduled to visit Egypt, he wrote.
“In Brussels, the delegation was scheduled to meet with top NATO commanders, U.S. military leaders and key allies–to affirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance,” Hammill tweeted. “The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation & thanks to our men & women in uniform for their service & dedication, & to obtain critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-MD., criticized Trump's maneuver, saying it was "petty," "small" and "vindictive."
"It is unbecoming of the president of the United States. But it is unfortunately a daily occurrence," he told reporters.
Republican Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar tweeted an offer to the Speaker, inviting her to join himself and fellow Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs “at the border this weekend” in their home state.
Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida also tweeted, calling out the “tit-for-tat move,” saying Pelosi was “the only one” involved in the trip who was “being singled out.”
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Chad Pergram, John Roberts and Sarah Tobianski contributed to this report.