President Donald Trump appeared to mock House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by handing out souvenir pens at the signing ceremony for a North American trade deal.
“Today, we are finally ending the NAFTA nightmare,” Trump said Wednesday on the South Lawn of the White House, before adding his signature to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. He called the deal a “colossal victory” for farmers, factory workers and other countries.
Trump then gleefully passed around fist-fulls of commemorative pens to the Republican lawmakers and other supporters in attendance.
The President has officially signed the USMCA, fulfilling yet another promise to repeal the broken NAFTA
This is a historic moment for the country
Yet CNN & MSNBC refused to carry it live
RT so they can’t ignore this massive WIN for America! pic.twitter.com/xJJ4E69nMO
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) January 29, 2020
Handing out ceremonial pens after signing a major document is a tradition among U.S. elected officials. President Barack Obama, for example, used 22 pens to sign his signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, Fox News reported.
However, many observers saw Trump’s gesture at the USMCA signing as a direct response to Pelosi handing out commemorative pens with her signature on them following the signing of the two articles of impeachment against him last month.
— Christina Aguayo ??America's Daily Report (@TinaAguayotv) January 31, 2020
“You know what you hand out pens for? Accomplishments,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Elizabeth Harrington tweeted at the time. “Like, say, signing a historic trade deal with China.”
“Nancy Pelosi’s souvenir pens served up on silver platters to sign the sham articles of impeachment… She was so somber as she gave them away to people like prizes,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said at the time in a tweet.
Commentators across the political spectrum were critical of the celebratory moment given that Pelosi had previously insisted impeachment was a “somber” and “prayerful” process.
By contrast, on Wednesday, Harrington said on Twitter, “THIS is something you hand out pens for!”
Donald Trump does the USMCA his way
The USMCA is the biggest trade deal of all time, covering more than $1.3 trillion of commerce.
In signing the agreement, Trump fulfilled a campaign promise to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he had called “one of the worst trade deals” in history.
The USMCA updated NAFTA with new laws on intellectual property protection, the internet, investment, state-owned enterprises and currency. The deal also made significant changes in several key areas, including incentives to make cars in North America and open Canadian markets for American dairy farmers.
Two weeks earlier, Trump signed an initial trade pact with China at the White House.
The president is likely to tout both deals on Tuesday in his State of the Union Address on Tuesday. The Senate is expected to acquit him Wednesday in the impeachment trial.
- President Donald Trump hands out commemorative pens at the USMCA signing ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 29, 2020.: Screen grab