The Latest: Scenes from the House chamber leading to SOTU


WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

Hours ahead of the State of the Union address, at least a dozen members of Congress were milling around the House chamber.

A number of women were wearing white, the color that suffragettes favored and that President Donald Trump’s opponents want him to see.

The scene was a preview for what’s expected to be an especially tense event just over a week after Trump capitulated on his demand for border-wall funding in exchange for ending the longest government shutdown in history. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who led the effort to block the funding, will sit behind Trump as he delivers the address, along with Vice President Mike Pence.

Security was extraordinarily tight outside the Capitol building ahead of Trump’s arrival later in the evening.


6:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s Washington hotel is buzzing ahead of the State of the Union address.

The Pennsylvania Avenue hotel’s soaring lobby is packed with onlookers in advance of the speech, which staffers told guests is to be broadcast on the TVs with the volume up.

Among those spotted in the lobby: the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend, former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle.

Also there were Trump allies like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and conservative advocate Charlie Kirk.

Some of those in attendance were spotted consuming steak frites and grilled octopus.


5 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s two Supreme Court picks are among four justices expected to attend the State of the Union. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will not be among them.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan are expected to join Trump nominees Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch in the House chamber on Tuesday.

Justices typically attend State of the Union speeches given by the president who nominated them. Roberts and Kagan have never missed the State of the Union address since they’ve been on the court.

The 85-year-old Ginsburg is recovering from cancer surgery in December. She made her first public appearance since the surgery on Monday at a concert given by her daughter-in-law in Washington, D.C. Ginsburg did not attend Trump’s speech last year, either.


4:50 p.m.

The bitter partisanship of the past two years is on full display hours before President Donald Trump is expected to call for optimism and unity in his State of the Union address.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that the president talks about unity in his annual addresses to the nation but “spends the other 364 days of the year dividing us.”

Trump responded that Schumer was “just upset that he didn’t win the Senate, after spending a fortune.”

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were skeptical ahead of Trump’s televised address. Democrats see little evidence the president is willing to compromise. Even Trump’s staunchest allies know that bipartisan rhetoric read off of a teleprompter is usually undermined by scorching tweets and unpredictable policy maneuvers.


2:15 p.m.

Iowa Republican Steve King says his State of the Union guest will be Lynette Hardaway, otherwise known as the video blogger Diamond.

King tweeted on Tuesday that since he only has one guest seat, he flipped a coin between inviting Hardaway and her video partner, Rochelle Richardson, also known as Silk. Hardaway won the coin toss.

The Iowa congressman has come under fire recently for questioning in a New York Times article how white supremacy became an offensive term. House Republicans stripped King of his committee seats and some called on him to resign. King denies he is a racist.

Both women, known as Diamond & Silk, are African-American and prominent Trump supporters.


1 p.m.

Among House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s State of the Union guests are the Planned Parenthood president, active-duty transgender service members and chef Jose Andres. Andres heads a charity that began in 2010 to feed earthquake survivors in Haiti and that offered free food and coffee to furloughed workers during the partial government shutdown.

Lawmakers often make a political statement with their invitees.

Among other guests are Fred Guttenberg, the father of a Parkland, Florida, student killed by gun violence, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez and several national labor union leaders.

Pelosi’s husband, Paul, and one of her five children, the filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi, will also join.


12:40 p.m.

The recruiting arm for Senate Republicans is poking at Stacey Abrams even before she delivers the formal rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union message.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a brief video online Tuesday stringing together snippets of past comments by Abrams, including when the Democrat says, “This is not a speech of concession” after her narrow loss to Republican Brian Kemp in last year’s race for Georgia governor.

Other clips show Abrams talking about impeachment, presumably for Trump, and telling an interviewer that she tells folks she’s met herself and “I’m not overly impressed.”

At that point, the words, “Finally, something we agree on,” appear on screen.

Abrams is being encouraged to run for Senate next year against first-term Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia.


12:01 p.m.

Melania Trump is going early to the State of the Union again to spend time with her guests.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham says the first lady escorts the guests to help put them at ease and so they have time to look around the Capitol.

President Donald Trump’s public schedule has Mrs. Trump departing the White House about 40 minutes before Trump.

She caused a stir last year by arriving at the Capitol early and without the president. Grisham said then that the reason was to spend time with the guests. Her decision to travel alone also followed reports that Trump’s lawyer had paid a porn star to keep quiet about an alleged past affair with Trump.

Trump and his wife returned to the White House together after the speech.


11:12 a.m.

President Donald Trump is belittling the Senate’s top Democrat and complaining about the press hours ahead of a State of the Union address that the White House says will focus on unity and optimism.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer seems to have triggered Trump’s Twitter complaint. The New York Democrat said on the Senate floor Tuesday that Trump talks about unity in his annual addresses to the nation but “spends the other 364 days of the year dividing us.” He accuses Trump of “blatant hypocrisy.”

Minutes later, Trump tweeted that Schumer hasn’t even seen the speech. He claims Schumer is just “upset that he didn’t win the Senate, after spending a fortune.” And Trump complains that Republicans “weren’t given more credit for the Senate win by the media.”


11:05 a.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump is keeping a busy schedule before he goes to the Capitol to deliver the State of the Union address.

Although Trump had nothing on his public schedule, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says Trump has meetings Tuesday, including with his chief of staff. He also plans to confer with his speechwriting and communications teams to put “finishing touches” on the nationally televised address. Conway says he’ll go “up to the last minute with (a) Sharpie in hand.”

She says Trump has worked with the teams to put much of the speech “in his own voice.”

The president is also sticking to tradition and hosting television news anchors for lunch.

Conway says Trump will also meet with guests the White House has invited to sit with first lady Melania Trump during the speech.


12:24 p.m.

President Donald Trump is expected to call for optimism and unity in his State of the Union address, but skeptics are likely to question whether he can be successful in pursuing such a reset after two years of bitter partisanship and personal attacks.

Ahead of Trump’s prime-time Tuesday speech, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she hopes to hear a commitment from Trump on issues with bipartisan support, such as lowering the price of prescription drugs and rebuilding America’s infrastructure.

Trump will speak in the House chamber of the Capitol before members of the House and Senate and other government officials. Among them are several Democrats running to challenge Trump’s re-election.

The Democratic response will come from the unsuccessful candidate for Georgia governor, Stacey Abrams, a rising star in the party.

Television crews set up their equipment in Statuary Hall in the Capitol, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, ahead of President Donald Trump’s delivery of the State of the Union on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)