With Congress, senior foreign diplomats and a global audience looking on, the president of the United States faced the packed House of Representatives chamber and called for an end to the investigation targeting him.
“I have provided to the special prosecutor voluntarily a great deal of material. I believe that I have provided all the material that he needs to conclude his investigations and to proceed to prosecute the guilty and to clear the innocent,” the president said. “I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of this matter to an end.
The speaker was Richard Nixon, delivering the annual State of the Union speech in January 1974 — not quite eight months before he resigned ahead of almost certain impeachment.
As President Trump prepares to give his first formal State of the Union speech on Tuesday, it’s unclear whether he will mention former FBI director Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 campaign. If he chooses not to confront the issue in this setting, Trump would be following the example of Bill Clinton, who made no mention of the investigation by independent counsel Ken Starr into his relationship with former intern Monica Lewinsky in his State of the Union speeches in 1998, 1999 and 2000.
Whether or not Trump trains his fire on Mueller is just one of many things to watch for in the speech. The yearly remarks also provide an unparalleled forum for Trump to boast of what he views as the biggest victories of his young presidency, as well as lay out his agenda going forward and kick off a year of politicking ahead of the November 2018 midterm elections.
Behind the scenes, the speech can be an ordeal for the president’s writers. Nixon’s 1970 State of the Union took shape during
Trump spoke to a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives on Feb. 28, 2017. But those remarks were not technically a State of the Union address, which by tradition takes place each January except in the first year of a new president’s term.