Up for Debate: Did Pelosi violate US Code when ripping up Trump's SOTU speech


As Trump wrapped up his latest SOTU speech, Nancy Pelosi stood behind him and ripped it up. She tore his transcript into several pieces and it was seen on camera and anyone watching it noticed it right away. It was such a statement that #PettyPelosi began trending on Twitter.

Now we're finding out that Pelosi might have violated a government code that could lead to a harsh penalty, as per a report on Trending Politics.

The report indicates that the document Pelosi ripped up could be considered an official government document and there is code that prohibits members of government from destroying those documents.

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Clayton Keirns located a Tweet from Carl Higbie who pointed out the possible code violation and penalties that Pelosi faces.

Higbie's tweet claims:

FYI: @SpeakerPelosi destroyed an official government document. 18 US code 2071 states: “Whoever, having the custody of destroys the same, shall be fined... shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.”


Higbie then linked to a Cornell law webpage with the the title, "18 U.S. Code §?2071. Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally" and the following information:

(a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away 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, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.

Here's why this is up for debate.

It is still unclear if the copy of Trump's speech is considered an official document, or if it's just a photo copy.

If the government does not consider the copy of Trump's speech an official document, then Nancy Pelosi is not in violation of any code, but she still acted childishly when doing her publicity stunt.

If the copy of Trump's speech is considered an official document, then it's possible she could be held responsible, but highly unlikely she faces any true penalty other than the wrath of social media. A copy of a speech would likely warrant little to no penalty, because it's not a document that would be of major importance or national security to America.

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