Fact Check

Did a Democratic Congressman 'Storm Out' of Trump's State of the Union?

Conservatives and conspiracy theorists have made much of the fact that Luis Gutiérrez quietly walked out three minutes before the end of Trump's speech.

Published Feb 1, 2018

Image Via CNN/YouTube
Luis Gutiérrez left Donald Trump's 2018 State of the Union speech in anger or disgust at patriotic chanting.
What's True

Gutiérrez did leave as others were chanting "U.S.A!", and before the president's speech had ended.

What's False

Gutiérrez began preparing to leave his seat before the patriotic chanting began, and says he exited the chamber in order to make it to a television interview on time. Gutiérrez left as Trump was coming to the conclusion of what had been an historically long State of the Union address.

During his 2018 State of the Union address, as Donald Trump talked about monuments -- to freedom, to historical figures, and to veterans -- Republicans started chanting "USA!" As they did so, about three minutes before the end of the speech, Democratic Congressman Luis Gutiérrez gathered up his things and walked out of the room -- a move that has put him at the center of a storm of outrage.

Fox News, in a piece headlined "Democrat Luis Gutiérrez Storms Out of State of the Union During 'USA' Chant" said:

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez turned and left the State of the Union address Tuesday, just as Republicans broke into a "USA" chant. President Donald Trump had just finished mentioning the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol building, which he then called a "monument to the American people."

In that section of remarks, Trump also praised veterans in wars from the Revolution, through World War II and today, mentioning sites like Saratoga, N.Y., Yorktown, V.A. and the Pacific theater.

As half of the gallery broke into a "USA" chant, Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) could be seen exiting his aisle seat and walking out of the chamber.

Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large of the conspiracy theory web site Infowars claimed Gutiérrez left because he was "triggered" by the chanting.

Speaking to Fox News, Deputy White House Press Secretary J. Hogan Gidley responded to the Congressman's early departure from the speech, saying "For the life of me I can't figure out when Democrats became so...anti-this country."

In reality, Gutiérrez has dismissed these claims, saying he left the chamber in order to make it to a television interview on time, adding that he deliberately waited until the president had stopped speaking before leaving his seat.

Gutiérrez can be seen leaving his seat at the 1:17:22 mark in this footage, during an applause break about three minutes before the end of the speech.


However, Gutiérrez can also be seen preparing to leave his seat (at 1:17:15) before the chants of "U.S.A.!" began (1:17:19.).


This undermines claims that Gutiérrez was leaving in response to the chants. The sequence of events can be clearly seen in this short clip from the longer CNN video:

The Congressman's contention that the speech was "running late" is also a reasonable one. At one hour and 20 minutes, Trump's was the third-longest State of the Union speech in more than 50 years, according to the American Presidency Project at the University of California Santa Barbara.

After the speech ended, Gutiérrez conducted an interview with Univision. His Twitter account posted this photo at 10.43pm -- six minutes after the president left the chamber. You can watch an excerpt of the interview (in Spanish) here.

Gutiérrez, who has said he will not seek re-election in 2018, has been a fervent critic of the president. After the State of the Union speech, the Chicago legislator issued a statement in which he called Trump "an outwardly, explicitly racist American President."

After the Congressman's clarification about the reasons for his early departure, Fox News changed the headline on its article from "Democrat Luis Gutiérrez Storms Out of State of the Union During 'USA' Chant" to "Democrat Luis Gutiérrez Walks Out of State of the Union Early."

It's true that Gutiérrez left his seat as Congress members chanted "U.S.A.!" during Donald Trump's State of the Union speech on 30 January 2018. However, there is no evidence that he did so because of those chants, which came towards the end of an unusually long speech by Trump, and with Gutiérrez on his way to a media commitment.


Fox News.  "WATCH: Democrat Luis Gutiérrez Walks Out of State of the Union Early."   Fox News.  31 January 2018.

Gutiérrez, Rep. Luis V.  "Gutiérrez on State of the Union Address."   U.S. Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez.  30 January 2018.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.