2020 State of the Union Address

Coordinates: 38°53′19.8″N 77°00′32.8″W / 38.888833°N 77.009111°W / 38.888833; -77.009111
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2020 State of the Union Address
Full video of the speech as published by the White House
DateFebruary 4, 2020 (2020-02-04)
Time9:00 p.m. EST
Duration1 hour, 18 minutes[1]
VenueHouse Chamber, United States Capitol
LocationWashington, D.C.
Coordinates38°53′19.8″N 77°00′32.8″W / 38.888833°N 77.009111°W / 38.888833; -77.009111
TypeState of the Union Address
Previous2019 State of the Union Address
Next2021 Joint session speech
Full text by Archives.gov

The 2020 State of the Union Address was given by the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, on February 4, 2020, at 9:00 p.m. EST, in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives to the 116th United States Congress. It was Trump's third and final State of the Union Address and his fourth and final speech to a joint session of the United States Congress. Presiding over this joint session was the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, accompanied by Mike Pence, the vice president, in his capacity as the president of the Senate.

The speech was the second State of the Union Address to be delivered by an impeached president, as the 1999 address by Bill Clinton was delivered during his impeachment trial.[2] The address was aired on 12 television networks and was watched by 37.2 million viewers, not including views from online live streams. Overall viewership for the address was 20% lower than 2019.[3] As Trump was concluding the state of the union address, Pelosi stood and ripped up her copy of the speech as a form of protest.[1]


Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution states that the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."[4] Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent an invitation to President Trump on December 20, 2019, two days after his impeachment by the House of Representatives.[5][6]

CNN anchors were excluded from the annual pre-State of the Union lunch with the president. This was the first time in recent memory anchors from a specific network were forbidden from attending the lunch.[7]


Republican members of Congress stand for applause during the address

The State of the Union Address began at 9:00 p.m. EST and was televised and streamed by all major U.S. broadcast and cable television networks.[8] The date for the address fell one day after the Iowa caucuses in the 2020 presidential election, and one day before the Senate vote on whether or not to convict Trump in his impeachment trial.[9][10] As Trump entered the chamber, he appeared to snub Pelosi's offer of a handshake.[11] Breaking with tradition again, Pelosi omitted the line "I have the high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you" before introducing the president.[11] Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt was named the designated survivor and was at an undisclosed location during the address so that, in case of a catastrophe, the continuity of government would be upheld.[12]

The address lasted a total of 78 minutes; approximately 26 minutes of the address was consumed by audience applause, primarily from Republican lawmakers.[13] Republican lawmakers in the audience shouted "four more years" before Trump began his address.[11] The address, heralded by Trump as "the great American comeback", primarily focused on national security, the economy, health care, and foreign policy[13] while avoiding topics such as environmental policy and climate change, the Mueller investigation, and his impeachment trial, which was expected to conclude the next day.[14] Various media outlets reported that Trump made false or misleading claims during his address.[15][16][17][18][19]

Among Trump's comments, he addressed the emerging COVID-19 pandemic: "We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China. My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat."[20]

Notable invitations[edit]

Juan Guaidó acknowledging Trump's support amidst the Venezuelan presidential crisis

Following a bipartisan tradition that dates back to the Reagan presidency, Trump invited and introduced guests during the speech.[21][22][23][24][25][26]

Speaker Pelosi ripping up speech[edit]

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi tears up her copy of Trump's speech.

As the address concluded, Pelosi tore up her copy of the speech in four separate sections. "In case any confusion remained" regarding her actions, "Pelosi held up what remained of the address to her family in the gallery, in full view of reporters".[30][31] Pelosi defended her actions, saying "He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech. What we heard last night was a disgrace."[32][33] Pelosi elaborated that "it was a courteous thing to do considering the alternatives. It was such a dirty speech."[34] Subsequent to the address, a video showed Pelosi making small tears of the speech as it was being delivered.[35][36] In a subsequent interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Pelosi admitted to making small tears in her paper copy as the speech was being made, but denied that it was a part of a predetermined act to tear up the speech at its conclusion. Pelosi said that making small rips in the speech was simply a way of marking pages where she disagreed with the president.[37] Some news outlets such as NBC assessed the act differently, "Before House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped President Donald Trump's printed State of the Union speech in half, it appears she made tiny tears on the sides to ensure that the moment would go smoothly."[35]

After the address, the White House Twitter account posted "Speaker Pelosi just ripped up: One of our last surviving Tuskegee Airmen. The survival of a child born at 21 weeks. The mourning families of Rocky Jones and Kayla Mueller. A service member's reunion with his family. That's her legacy."[31][38]

Reaction to Pelosi tearing up the speech followed party lines in the days following the SOTU. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway described it as a "temper tantrum" which she believed was typical for Pelosi. "America saw an incorrigible child ripping up the State of the Union," Conway told reporters the day after the speech. "I think it shows you how petty and peevish and partisan the Democratic Party has become." Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, praised Pelosi's actions saying, "As far as I'm concerned, a shredder wasn't available, and so she did what she needed to do." Representative Lois Frankel, Democrat of Florida, said "I think she did the only thing she could do within the realm of respectability. She basically said she had had it."[38]


Several members of Congress boycotted the State of the Union, including Democratic representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Earl Blumenauer, Steve Cohen, Al Green, Hank Johnson, Maxine Waters, and Frederica Wilson.[39] Carrying on a tradition started during the 2019 State of the Union Address, Democratic women who attended the speech dressed in white in reference to the women's suffrage movement and wore lapel pins with symbols for the Equal Rights Amendment and global warming (climate change).

During Trump's speech, after urging Congress to pursue legislation to lower prescription drug prices, several members of Congress began chanting "H.R. 3"[40] in protest of the Senate's rejection of the Elijah Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act.[41]

Democratic representative Tim Ryan walked out of the State of the Union and published a series of tweets, comparing the event to "watching professional wrestling".[42] Gun control activist Fred Guttenberg, invited by Pelosi, was ejected after shouting in response to Trump's remarks about protecting the Second Amendment.[43]

Democratic congressman Seth Moulton from Massachusetts, a Marine veteran, walked out in protest after Trump touted the support he has given to the military.[44] Moulton clarified later that he walked out because "Trump—a draft dodger who has mocked Sen. John McCain, Gold Star families, and soldiers with traumatic brain injury—started talking about the good he has done for our military."[45]


Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer gave the Democratic response.[46] Texas representative Veronica Escobar gave a Spanish-language response.[47] In addition, Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and Representative Ayanna Pressley gave their own personal responses.[48]


The State of the Union Address was televised on all the major U.S. broadcast and cable television networks. Many news outlets streamed the address online.[49]


Of the 12 networks that covered the address, every network saw a drop in ratings compared to 2019, except for Fox News, which saw a 2% increase over 2019.[50] Following the address, both CNN and MSNBC saw an increase in viewership during Gretchen Whitmer's official response to the address.[51]

Total cable and network viewers[50]

Network Viewers
FNC 11.5 million
NBC 4.8 million
CBS 4.66 million
ABC 4.12 million
Fox 3.51 million
CNN 2.78 million
MSNBC 2.23 million

  Broadcast networks

  Cable news networks

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b McCarthy, Niall. "The Longest State Of The Union Addresses [Infographic]". Forbes. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  2. ^ Breshahan, John; Samuelshon, Darren (December 20, 2019). "Pelosi invites Trump to deliver State of the Union on Feb. 4". Politico. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  3. ^ Concha, Joe (February 6, 2020). "Viewership drops 20 percent for Trump State of the Union address; Fox News only network to see uptick". The Hill. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  4. ^ "Constitution of the United States". United States Senate. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  5. ^ Gregorian, Dareh (December 20, 2019). "Pelosi invites Trump to deliver the State of the Union two days after impeaching him". NBC News. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  6. ^ Breuninger, Kevin (December 20, 2019). "Trump accepts Pelosi's invitation to give State of the Union address on Feb. 4". CNBC. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  7. ^ Business, Brian Stelter, CNN. "White House excludes CNN from annual pre-SOTU lunch with news anchors". CNN. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  8. ^ Tornoe, Rob (February 4, 2020). "State of the Union 2020: Everything you need to know to watch Trump's speech". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  9. ^ Stokols, Eli (February 4, 2020). "Impeachment hangs over Trump's State of the Union address". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  10. ^ Restuccia, Andrew (February 4, 2020). "Trump Strikes Optimistic Tone, Touts Economy in State of the Union Speech". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Crouhcer, Shane (February 5, 2020). "Republicans chant 'four more years' at Trump's State of the Union address, Democrats call it a 'Trump Rally'". Newsweek. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  12. ^ Choi, Matthew (February 4, 2020). "The State of the Union's designated survivor: Interior Secretary David Bernhardt". Politico. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Murphy, Joe; Wu, Jiachuan (February 5, 2020). "What the president talked about at the State of the Union, in visualizations". NBC. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  14. ^ Wolf, Zachary B. "13 things Trump forgot to mention at his State of the Union address". CNN. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  15. ^ Eugene Kiely; Brooks Jackson; Lori Robertson; Robert Farley; D'Angelo Gore; Jessica McDonald; Isabella Fertel (February 5, 2020). "FactChecking the State of the Union; The president's address included false and misleading claims on jobs, wages, energy, immigration and more". Factcheck.org. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  16. ^ "FACT CHECK: Trump Delivers State Of The Union To Tense, Partisan Congress". NPR.org.
  17. ^ "President Trump's State of the Union address: Live video and analysis".
  18. ^ "The Facts Behind President Trump's 2020 State of the Union".
  19. ^ Fact-Checking Trump's 2020 State of the Union Address and the Democratic Response
  20. ^ "READ: President Trump's full 2020 State of the Union speech". Fox 61. Retrieved April 5, 2020.
  21. ^ Haltiwanger, John. "The complete history of the US State of the Union address". Business Insider. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  22. ^ Walsh, Deidre (February 5, 2020). "6 Surprising And Emotional Moments From Trump's State Of The Union Address". NPR. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  23. ^ "Special Guests for President Trump's 3rd State of the Union Address". White House Press Release. Retrieved February 9, 2020.
  24. ^ Collins, Kaitlain (February 4, 2020). "Rush Limbaugh awarded Medal of Freedom in surprise State of the Union move". CNN. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  25. ^ Campanile, Carl (February 4, 2020). "Trump blames 'sanctuary' NYC for killing of 92-year-old woman in SOTU speech". New York Post. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  26. ^ Hoonhout, Tobias (February 4, 2020). "Trump Accuses Dems of Sheltering Illegal Immigrant Criminals Rather Than Creating 'A Sanctuary for Law-Abiding Americans'". National Review. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  27. ^ Hanna, Maddie; Graham, Kristen A. "Trump used a Philly student to push school choice. But she attends one of the city's best charters". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved February 10, 2020.
  28. ^ Vasilyeva, Nataliya (January 24, 2019). "Venezuela crisis: Familiar geopolitical sides take shape". Associated Press.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ Magnier, Mark (February 4, 2020). "Hong Kong activist Nathan Law to attend Trump's State of the Union address". South China Morning Post. New York City. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  30. ^ "Pelosi rips up Trump's State of the Union speech". PBS NewsHour. February 4, 2020. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  31. ^ a b Samuels, Brett (February 4, 2020). "Pelosi rips up Trump speech at conclusion of State of the Union". TheHill. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  32. ^ Cillizza, Chris (February 5, 2020). "These 2 Nancy Pelosi photos perfectly describe the state of our union". CNN. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  33. ^ Caygle, Heather; Ferris, Sarah; Bresnahan, John (February 5, 2020). "Pelosi unloads on Trump in private meeting after SOTU standoff - "He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech," Pelosi told House Democrats in a closed-door meeting". Politico. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  34. ^ Mansoor, Sanya (February 4, 2020). "Nancy Pelosi Ripped Up a Copy of Trump's State of the Union Address". Time. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  35. ^ a b "Video shows Nancy Pelosi ripping Trump's SOTU speech before tearing it in half". NBC News. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  36. ^ Chasmar, Jessica (February 6, 2020). "Nancy Pelosi pre-ripped pages during SOTU speech, Trump campaign says". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on September 18, 2020. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  37. ^ "Pelosi defends ripping Trump's State of the Union address". CNN newsroom.
  38. ^ a b Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (February 5, 2020). "As White House Calls Pelosi's Speech-Ripping a 'Tantrum,' She Feels 'Liberated'". The New York Times. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  39. ^ Wilkie, Christina (February 4, 2020). "High-profile Dems to boycott Trump's State of the Union Address". CNBC. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  40. ^ Pallone, Frank (December 16, 2019). "H.R.3 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act". www.congress.gov. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  41. ^ Martichoux, Alix (February 4, 2020). "Here's what Democrats were chanting in protest during the State of the Union". SFGate. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  42. ^ Slisco, Aila (February 4, 2020). "Ohio Congressman Walks Out Of Trump State Of The Union Address: 'It's Like Watching Professional Wrestling. It's All Fake'". Newsweek. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  43. ^ Smiley, David; Daughtery, Alex (February 4, 2020). "Parkland father removed from State of the Union speech after shouting at Trump". Miami Herald. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  44. ^ EST, David Brennan On 2/5/20 at 4:17 AM (February 5, 2020). "Former Marine walks out of Trump's State of the Union address, calls president a "draft dodger"". Newsweek. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  45. ^ "Seth Moulton Explains Why He Walked Out Of The State Of The Union Address". www.wbur.org. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  46. ^ Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will deliver Democratic response to Trump's State of the Union address MLive.com, January 24, 2020
  47. ^ Texas Rep. Escobar will give Democrats’ response to Trump State of the Union San Antonio Express-News, January 24, 2020
  48. ^ Narea, Nicole (February 4, 2020). "The 4 Democrats delivering responses to Trump's State of the Union". Vox.
  49. ^ Tornoe, Rob (February 4, 2020). "State of the Union 2020: Everything you need to know to watch Trump's speech". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  50. ^ a b Crowley, James (February 5, 2020). "Donald Trump's 2020 State of the Union Address sees decline of nearly 21% in TV ratings". Newsweek. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  51. ^ Patten, Dominic; Ramos, Dino-Ray (February 5, 2020). "State Of The Union Viewership Down Double Digits From 2019; Fox News Tops All, Only Net To Rise Over Last Year – Update". Deadline. Retrieved February 6, 2020.

External links[edit]

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Succeeded by