Tuesday night President Donald Trump makes the annual presidential trip up Pennsylvania Avenue to address Congress.
Trump’s first State of the Union address will be “must see TV” according to White House officials, who have been teasing the speech as an opportunity for the president to tout his administration’s accomplishments over the past year. But exactly what is in the speech remains a mystery, even to many in the president’s inner circle.
The president told his staff he wants his speech to be “positive and uplifting,” and for months Trump has passed along notes and ideas to his team, according to a White House official. Senior Policy Advisor Stephen Miller, White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, National Security Advisory H.R. McMaster, and Economic Advisor Gary Cohn were part of the team of advisers who helped write the speech.
Ron Sachs/Getty Images, FILEPresident Donald Trump makes remarks in the Oval Office, Jan. 10, 2018, in Washington.
On Tuesday, preparations were underway for the State of the Union, according to a White House official, who said Trump rehearsed his speech’s delivery in the Map Room. In the afternoon, the president had a traditional off-the-record lunch with network news anchors at the White House.
Before departing for Capitol Hill, the first lady will hold a reception at the White House for honorary guests sitting with her at tonight’s State of the Union address, according to a spokesperson for her office.
It is not clear whether President Trump will also attend this reception, but an administration official said the the guests will meet with the president in the Oval Office during the afternoon. Among those invited to join the first lady in her box tonight are the parents of two girls killed by MS-13 gang members, a wounded veteran and a family affected by the Opioid crisis. Looking down from the House gallery’s balcony will also be Trump’s children including Don Jr., Eric, Ivanka and Tiffany although Trump’s youngest son Barron is not expected to attend.
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With major legislative hurdles on issues like immigration and infrastructure ahead, White House officials say tonight’s speech will strike an optimistic and bipartisan tone with a theme of “Building a Safe, Strong and Proud America.”
The White House says the speech will largely focus on five main issues: tax cuts and the economy, the outline for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, trade, national security by “peace through strength” and the framework for immigration reform including DACA legalization.
On Monday, Trump when asked about his State of the Union speech at the swearing in for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Trump expressed hope his address will pave the way for finding a middle ground on immigration.
“It has to be bipartisan,” Trump said. “But hopefully the Democrats will join us or enough of them will join us so we can really do something great for DACA and for immigration in general.”
Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesPresident Donald Trump stands in the colonnade as he is introduced to speak to March for Life participants and anti-abortion rights advocates in the Rose Garden at the White House on January 19, 2018 in Washington.
But as the Russia investigation swirls around the White House, the question remains whether or not the President will address recent controversies surrounding the probe and a new classified memo about the FBI’s management of the Russia investigation.
When asked if the House Republican’s memo will be included in tonight’s speech, Kellyanne Conway said to Fox and Friends “it’s not,” but then added “transparency and accountability are.”