- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2020

A Republican lawmaker asked for a criminal referral against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday over the California Democrat’s ripping her copy of President Trump’s State of the Union speech.

“I’m filing an ethics complaint against @SpeakerPelosi for destroying @realDonaldTrump’s State of the Union speech,” Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican, wrote on Twitter.

Mr. Gaetz, one of Mr. Trump’s most outspoken supporters, called Mrs. Pelosi’s theatrical gesture “beneath the dignity of the House, and a potential violation of law (18 USC 2071).”

Mr. Gaetz outlined his potential legal case in a note sent Wednesday to the two top lawmakers on the House ethics committee. He appended images of the letter to his Twitter post.

The law’s wording, which Mr. Gaetz cited and highlighted, promises up to three years in prison for “whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys … any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office.”

Mr. Trump handed the copy of the speech to Mrs. Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence, who represents the Senate, before he began.

Tuesday’s address, like all state-of-the-union speeches, was given under the color of a Constitutional provision that the president “shall from time to time” advise the Congress on “the state of the union.”

“Nobody is above the law. She must be held accountable” for destroying official records, Mr. Gaetz concluded in his Twitter message Wednesday evening.

The chances of the Democratic-led House sending a criminal case against a Democratic speaker to a Republican administration’s Justice Department, as Mr. Gaetz requested at the end of his letter to the ethics panel, are probably slim.

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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