Trump delivers first State of the Union amid Washington discord

Posted on: January 30th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments — President Donald Trump is delivering his first State of the Union address and providing his assessment of his first year in office with a look ahead at his agenda as he continues to work towards fulfilling his campaign promise to “make America great again.”

But amid what Trump told White House officials would be a “positive and uplifting” speech lies the cloud of an investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election and alleged possible collusion between Trump associates and Russian operatives — a storyline which has dominated the news cycle throughout the first twelve months of his presidency.

The president is expected to address tax reform, national security, infrastructure, trade and immigration reform.

The debate over immigration factored prominently into the showdown and, ultimately, led to a three-day-long federal government shutdown.

9:31 p.m. ET – National anthem debate referenced

Without specifically mentioning the NFL, which saw widespread protests by African-American players and their supporters this year seeking to call attention to social inequality, Trump again waded into the debate about their choice to kneel during the playing of the national anthem.

After acknowledging a guest who placed 40,000 flags at the graves of veterans on Memorial Day, Trump said that such a feeling of reverence “reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”

9:23 p.m. ET – Unity a theme

In discussing “what kind of nation we are going to be,” Trump delved into topics in which he felt there was widespread agreement among the public, which he called “one team, one people and one American family.”

“We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag,” he said.

9:23 p.m. ET – Tax reform

Receiving a rousing round of applause from Republicans in attendance, Trump discussed the party’s successful effort to reform the nation’s tax code.

“Just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history,” Trump said.

The president noted the GOP plans’ near doubling of the standard deduction and child tax credit, reduction in corporate tax rates and repeal of the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

9:19 p.m. ET – Trump touts employment, economic numbers

The president focused on the strength of the economy as a success in the first year of his administration, listing the creation of “2.4 million new jobs” and “200,000 jobs in manufacturing alone” as particular achievements.

“Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low,” he added.

Noting it was something he was “very proud of,” Trump further claimed that “African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded.”

9:17 p.m. ET – ‘The state of our union is strong because our people are strong.’

Trump pointed to the strength of Americans in issuing his proclamation about the state of the union.

“Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew: that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or determined as Americans,” Trump said. “If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it. If there is an opportunity, we seize it.”

9:13 p.m. ET – Trump introduces guests

Early in the speech, the president introduced two guests, Ashlee Leppert and David Dahlberg.

Leppert is a Coast Guard petty officer who took part in rescue missions during Hurricane Harvey. Dahlberg, a firefighter, rescued nearly 60 children at a summer camp during the California wildfires, Trump said.

9:10 p.m. ET – Speech begins with reminder of mission to ‘make America great again’

At the top of his remarks, Trump reminded the chamber of his joint address nearly a year ago, saying that at the time, his administration had already taken “swift action.”

“Each day since, we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission to make America great again for all Americans,” Trump said.

9:05 p.m. ET – Trump arrives in House chamber

The president has arrived at the Capitol for the State of the Union.

Breaking with modern precedent, Trump was not accompanied by his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who held a reception for her guests at the White House and traveled with them to Capitol in advance.

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