House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Friday canceled a visit to Afghanistan, accusing the White House of leaking commercial travel plans to the war zone after President Donald Trump denied her and other Democrats access to a military aircraft for a seven-day foreign trip.
“We weren’t going to go because we had a report from Afghanistan that the president outing out trip had made feet on the ground much more dangerous because it’s a signal to bad actors that we were coming,” Pelosi told reporters on Friday. “The fact that they would leak that we were flying commercial is a danger not only to us but to other people.
It is “very irresponsible on the part of the president,” Pelosi said of the purported leak. She would not answer how she learned that the White House had leaked the information.
In a statement, the White House denied leaking the speaker’s flight plans, calling the accusation “a flat out lie.”
“When the Speaker of the house and about 20 others from Capitol Hill decide to book their own commercial flights to Afghanistan, the world is going to find out. The idea we would leak anything that would put the safety and security of any American at risk is a flat out lie,” said the White House.
In a Thursday letter to Pelosi, President Trump notified the speaker that he was revoking access to the plane for her trip to Egypt, Brussels, and Afghanistan, writing: “In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I’m sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”
“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,” he continued. President Trump said Pelosi was welcome to fly on a commercial plane to make the visit. “Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative,” he wrote.
Democrats were scheduled to depart around 3:00 p.m. EST for their overseas trip, according to the White House. Shortly after access to military jet was revoked, Hamill said Democrats planned to meet with NATO leaders in Brussels to “obtain critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines.”
Speaking to the media after jet access was revoked, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) accused President Trump of breaking the law by revealing Pelosi visit to Afganistan, citing potential security concerns. “I don’t understand if Mr. Trump understands the laws and procedures in our country,” Warner told CBS when asked about the cancelation. “I don’t know what Speaker Pelosi is doing, not doing. Sometimes members take trips into dangerous areas, and only announced after the fact.”
“If someone had revealed about the president’s trip beforehand, around Christmas when he went to the war zone — if someone had revealed that beforehand, that would have been a violation of law, policy, and procedure,” he continued. “I don’t know why what the president may have done today isn’t that same kind of violation.”
The trip’s cancellation comes as President Trump and Democrat leaders remain locked in a bitter fight over a bill which would fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall to the tune of $5.7 billion White House officials met with rank-and-file Democrats on Wednesday in an effort to carve out a deal with centrist lawmakers from states where the president enjoys high levels of support. During a conference call with supporters this week, President Trump showed no signs of backing down on his chief campaign promise, reiterating his pledge to build a wall.
“We’re going to stay out for a long time, if we have to,” he said of the shutdown. “We’ll be out for a long time.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify that Pelosi’s office claimed the White House leaked new, overnight plans to travel commercially to Afghanistan — not that the trip referenced in President Trump’s Thursday letter had been planned as a commercial flight.