Gov. Justice invites Trump to deliver State of the Union in West Virginia

(WHSV)
Published: Jan. 23, 2019 at 11:25 AM EST
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West Virginia Governor Jim Justice says if President Donald Trump is unable to deliver the 2019 State of the Union address at the Capitol due to a request from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he is welcome to give it in West Virginia instead.

“I called the President yesterday to convey our invitation for him to come to West Virginia to give the State of the Union Address in our State Capitol," said Justice in a statement to media. "Giving the speech in a state full of people who love their country would truly reflect his focus on the forgotten men and women of America."

On Wednesday morning, the White House sent an email to the House sergeant-at-arms asking to schedule a walk-through in anticipation of a Jan. 29 address, according to a White House official who was not authorized to discuss the planning by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

White House officials say Pelosi never formally rescinded her invitation for Trump to give the State of the Union and simply requested that he either deliver the speech in writing or postpone it until after the partial government shutdown is resolved, citing security concerns.

"She has not canceled it. She asked us to postpone it," White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in an interview Tuesday with Fox News Channel.

"We have no announcement at this time," he said, "but Nancy Pelosi does not dictate to the president when he will or will not have a conversation with the American people."

At the same time, the White House is continuing to work on contingency plans to give Trump a backup in case the joint-session plans fall through. The president cannot speak in front of a joint session of Congress without both chambers' explicit permission. A resolution needs to be agreed to by both chambers specifying the date and time for receiving an address from the president.

Officials have been considering a list of potential alternative venues, including a rally-style event, an Oval office address— as Pelosi previously suggested — a speech before the Senate chamber, and even a return visit to the U.S.-Mexico border as Trump is expected to continue to hammer the need for a barrier, according to two others familiar with the discussions.

“No matter where he chooses to have the speech, I want the President to know that he is always welcome in the Great State of West Virginia," Justice stated.

Gov. Justice consulted with West Virginia's Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw before extending the invitation to Trump.

Before extending the invitation, Gov. Justice consulted with Speaker of the House Roger Hanshaw, and he expressed full support of the invitation.

The Constitution states only that the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union," meaning the president can speak anywhere he chooses or give his update in writing. But a joint address in the House chamber, in front of lawmakers from both parties, the Supreme Court justices and invited guests, has been the usual tradition in recent years.

North Carolina's House Speaker Tim Moore and Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield have also invited the president to deliver the address in their states.

In a tweet Sunday, Trump wrote that he was "still thinking about the State of the Union speech" and that there were "so many options - including doing it as per your written offer (made during the Shutdown, security is no problem), and my written acceptance."

"While a contract is a contract," he wrote, "I'll get back to you soon!"