House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she was forced to nix her Afghanistan trip after President Donald Trump barred her from using a military aircraft and she was told by the State Department diplomatic security that it was too dangerous to fly there commercially.
“We weren’t going to go because we had a report from Afghanistan that the President outing our trip had made the scene on the ground much more dangerous because it’s just a signal to the bad actors,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol.
“You never give advance notice of going into a battle area. You just never do. Perhaps the President’s inexperience didn’t help him understand that protocol. The people around him, though, should have known that, because that’s very dangerous,” she said.
The speaker also said the President’s announcement of the trip had endangered members of Congress and American troops, and that she was just relaying what the State Department told her office.
“This is a fact. It’s not even an opinion,” she said.
Asked how Pelosi knew that the leaks were coming from the White House when the White House denied it, she paused and said: “I rest my case.”
Pelosi added she and the members will “go again” at a different time.
The canceled Afghanistan trip marked an escalation in a weeks-long standoff between Pelosi and the President over the government shutdown.
On Wednesday, Pelosi sent a letter to the President asking him to consider moving his State of the Union address or to deliver it in writing – citing security concerns because some of the agencies tasked with protecting the event are affected by the ongoing shutdown.
On Thursday, Trump retaliated, blocking Pelosi and members of Congress from using a military jet for a trip they had planned to take to Afghanistan to visit American troops.
Pelosi said she hoped that the President wouldn’t be canceling a trip to visit the troops out of spite.
“I don’t think the President would be that petty do you?” she said.
Earlier Friday, her spokesman released a statement saying that while Pelosi and the congressional delegation set to travel with her were prepared to use commercial travel for their trip, the risks associated with the trip only grew after details of those plans to a war zone leaked.
“In the middle of the night, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service provided an updated threat assessment detailing that the President announcing this sensitive travel had significantly increased the danger to the delegation and to the troops, security, and other officials supporting the trip,” Drew Hammill, her spokesman, said. “This morning, we learned that the administration had leaked the commercial travel plans as well.”
CNN’s Ashley Killough, Kristin Wilson, Phil Mattingly and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.