Donald Trump snubbed a handshake from Democrat house speaker Nancy Pelosi as he entered Congress to deliver a thunderous State of the Union address before she dramatically tore up a copy of his speech.
The US president astonishingly ignored the outstretched hand of Pelosi and then proceeded to tear into his enemies and opponents.
Pelosi, who dropped her opposition to impeachment and allowed Democratic lawmakers to seek charges against the president, had sat stoically and grim-faced behind Trump throughout.
Tomorrow, the Republican-backed Senate is set to acquit Trump after his impeachment trial.
In Congress, he was met by chants of ‘four more years’ from jubilant Republicans, as Democrat lawmakers sat stony-faced as Trump boasted: “The state of our union has never been stronger.”
Verbal fireworks were inevitable in a speech that lasted longer than an hour, as he confronted the Democrat opponents who approved articles of impeachment against him.
But the dramatic scenes that unfolded were nevertheless remarkable.
Trump ignored Pelosi’s hand as he gave her a copy of his remarks before starting his speech.
Having not spoken to Trump since their last meeting, Pelosi appeared to be taken aback.
She avoided citing the customary “high privilege and distinct honor” that usually accompanies the speaker’s introduction of the president to Congress.
“Members of Congress, the President of the United States” was all she said in introducing Trump.
When his speech ended, Pelosi stood and tore up her copy of the remarks he had handed her.
She later told reporters she did it as it was “the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative.”
The House Speaker also shared a photo of the snubbed handshake, saying “Democrats will never stop extending the hand of friendship to get the job done”.
In his address, Trump went on to proclaim “we will never let socialism destroy American healthcare!” while he also called for a ban to late-term abortions.
Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have proposed healthcare plans that would be entirely run by the government, a sharp departure from the current, private system in which millions of Americans get medical insurance from their employers.
While Trump has likened their plans to socialism, his lack of a healthcare plan has left him open to criticism that he has not put enough work into finding a way to reduce rising insurance costs that burden middle-class Americans.
Trump said: “In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American Decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny.
“We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!”
Many House Democratic women wore white for a second year in a row, a sign of the suffragist movement that won women the right to vote 100 years ago.
Several Democratic lawmakers refused to attend the annual speech to protest against Trump.
The president repeated his stance that Americans should retain the right to bear arms and that the second amendment should be protected.
The father of one of the victims of the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida which killed 17 people was reportedly escorted out of the public gallery after standing up and shouting out in protest.
Trump also revived his arguments that migrants should be stopped from crossing the southern U.S. border and that so-called “sanctuary cities” where migrants are protected are wrong.
After coming close to a broad conflict with Iran after he ordered the killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, Trump said “we are working to end America’s wars in the Middle East.”