In a dramatic gesture, Nancy Pelosi publicly tore up her copy of Donald Trump's annual State of the Union address, signalling the worsening relationship between the House Speaker and the US President.
Pelosi has been one of Trump's fiercest critics and the top Democrat was the one who first launched formal impeachment process in the House of Representatives against the president last year. President Trump has frequently taunted the 79-year-old lawmaker as "Crazy Nancy".
The mutual snubbing began the moment Trump, seeking re-election, walked into the House chamber on Tuesday night for his third State of the Union address in which he touted his administration's achievements during the past three years.
It was the first time the two had come face-to-face since she stormed out of a White House meeting four months ago.
On Tuesday night, the sour dynamic was on display to all from the start, The New York Times noted.
The tensions over impeachment appeared to surface early on, however, as Pelosi refused to introduce Trump by saying it was her "distinct honour" and "high privilege" to do so, as is tradition. Instead, she simply introduced him as the President of the United States, Fox News, said to be Trump's favourite news channel, reported.
When the 73-year-old Republican president stepped up to the rostrum in the House of Representatives and handed her his speech, Pelosi rose and extended her hand to shake his. Trump turned his back, and Pelosi quickly withdrew her hand.
The interaction between Trump and Pelosi was one of the most anticipated moments of the president's appearance at the Capitol before the Senate is expected to acquit him on Wednesday in his impeachment trial, The Times noted.
When the president accused the Democrats of planning to force American taxpayers to provide unlimited free healthcare to undocumented immigrants, Pelosi was observed twice mouthing: "Not true." Pelosi repeatedly shook her head during Trump's 78-minute speech which also saw Republican lawmakers chanting, "Four more years!" The veteran Democrat, the first woman in US history to hold the post of the Speaker, stuck to it until the very end of Trump's address and then she stood up, picked up her copy of his speech and tore it neatly in half.
"It was a dramatic gesture, caught on camera, that encapsulated a tumultuous year in the relationship between the speaker and the president," The Washington Post commented.
Pelosi told reporters afterwards her stunning gesture was "the courteous thing to do, considering the alternatives".
She did rise to applaud Trump more than once, including when he promoted his pet project of infrastructure investment.
Later, she tweeted that the "Democrats will never stop extending the hand of friendship to get the job done #ForThePeople. We will work to find common ground where we can, but will stand our ground where we cannot." Meanwhile, the White House hit back at Pelosi, saying the House Speaker has insulted the Americans honoured in Trump's speech, from a veteran airman to a premature baby or a mourning military family.
"That's her legacy", the White House tweeted.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham also criticised Pelosi, tweeting: Tearing the speech up is not going to tear up the accomplishments of this President.
But Chuck Schumer, the senior Democrat in the Senate, said that Trump's address to Congress was more like his campaign rally than a speech a true leader would give.
"It was demagogic, undignified, highly partisan and in too many places, untruthful", he said.