Donald Trump’s State of the Union address has been overshadowed by a bitter feud with a top Democrat.
The president refused to shake the hand of Nancy Pelosi before his 80-minute speech to Congress – and in return, she tore up a copy of his script afterwards.
While the House of Representatives Speaker usually introduces the president by describing their presence as a “high privilege and distinct honour”, Mrs Pelosi plainly said: “Members of Congress, the president of the United States.”
During his State of the Union address, Mr Trump avoided the thorny subject of his impeachment trial – instead concentrating on the economy.
As the president vies for re-election in November, he 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.”
Mr Trump’s speech came after he became the third US president in history to be impeached – and the night before the Republican-led Senate is expected to acquit him of charges that he abused his powers and obstructed Congress.
The tensions between Republicans and Democrats were on show throughout the evening.
As Mr Trump began speaking, Republicans from both houses of Congress chanted “four more years” as Democrats sat silently – shaking their heads as Mr Trump declared: “The state of our union is stronger than ever before.”
Mrs Pelosi also shook her head repeatedly as she sat grim-faced behind Mr Trump.
She later defended ripping up his speech live on camera – describing it as a “manifesto of mistruths” and telling reporters it was “the courteous thing to do, considering the alternative”.
Analysis: Pelosi’s stunt will help Trump attack ‘negative’ Democrats
By Ian Woods, senior news correspondent
His speech lasted an hour and 18 minutes, but nothing Donald Trump said will live as long in the memory as the silent gesture behind his back.
When Nancy Pelosi ostentatiously ripped up her copy of the president’s State of the Union speech it epitomised the ever deepening divisions in American politics.
Trump’s speech was littered with references to how he claims to have Made America Great Again.
It’s a positive message, while he can portray Democrats as negative, particularly those who resort to gestures like ripping up his speech.
Trump tore up the script four years ago when he stood for election. The Democrats are still struggling to find an answer to his unconventional approach to politics.
A spokeswoman for Mr Trump’s re-election campaign attacked Mrs Pelosi on Twitter, writing: “Her hatred for @realdonaldtrump has blinded her to the repulsive nature of her smug, elitist behavior.”
This was the first time that Mr Trump and Mrs Pelosi had met in person since she stormed out of a White House meeting four months ago.
The president sought to position himself as a big improvement over Barack Obama, who he succeeded three years ago.
Mr Trump congratulated his administration for “restoring our nation’s manufacturing might, even though predictions were that this could never be done”.
Some 12,000 factories had been opened since his inauguration in January 2017, he said, despite Federal Reserve figures showing that factory output has fallen by 1.3% over the past 12 months.
The president criticised the Obama administration, saying more than 300,000 working-age people had dropped out of the workforce during Mr Obama’s eight years in power, and claimed 3.5 million had joined the workforce since he was elected.
But this contradicts official figures from the US Labor Department which suggest the workforce grew by more than five million during Mr Obama’s presidency.
Mr Trump also vowed to “never let socialism destroy American healthcare”, saying: “A good life for American families also requires the most affordable, innovative, and high-quality healthcare system on Earth.”
But Democrats stood and chanted “HR3! HR3!” – referencing to a bill passed by the House that requires the government’s medicare programme to negotiate lower prices for insulin and other widely needed drugs.
Some opposition politicians decided to skip the State of the Union altogether.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was one of them, and said: “After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution.”
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