House Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepared to fly commercially to Afghanistan after President Donald Trump blocked her from using military aircraft, but she delayed the trip on Friday after the administration leaked the plans, her office said.
A Pelosi aide said the top opposition Democrat decided to delay the congressional trip due to "grave" security threats that arose from the Trump administration's disclosure.
"After President Trump revoked the use of military aircraft to travel to Afghanistan, the delegation was prepared to fly commercially to proceed with this vital trip to meet with our commanders and troops on the front lines," Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement.
Trump scrapped Pelosi's use of military aircraft on Thursday at the last minute due to the partial US government shutdown now in its fourth week, in apparent retaliation for Pelosi telling the president to postpone his scheduled January 29 State of the Union address based on security concerns tied to the shutdown.
The State Department released an updated assessment stressing that Trump's announcement of the Pelosi travel "had significantly increased the danger to the delegation and to the troops, security, and other officials supporting the trip," Hammill added.
"This morning, we learned that the Administration had leaked the commercial travel plans as well."
A person familiar with the matter said that administration officials had told reporters about the delegation's intent to take commercial flights on their trip.
"In light of the grave threats caused by the President's action, the delegation has decided to postpone the trip so as not to further endanger our troops and security personnel, or the other travelers on the flights," Hammill said.
Democratic lawmakers have expressed outrage at Trump's actions.
"As a former Member of the Intelligence Committee who has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan, disclosing ANY Members' travel into a war zone is disgraceful and dangerous," tweeted House Democrat Jan Schakowsky.
Trump lashed out again over the now-postponed trip, taking to Twitter to ask why Pelosi and other Democrats would leave the country "on a seven day excursion when 800,000 great people are not getting paid," during the government shutdown caused by an impasse between him and lawmakers over funding for his border wall with Mexico.
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