The White House says President Trump wasn't speaking seriously when he said it was "treasonous" for Democrats not to clap during his State of the Union address. He was speaking "tongue in cheek" and trying to emphasize positive changes under his leadership that all Americans should celebrate, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told NBC News on Tuesday, without mentioning Trump's claims that Democrats were playing "a game" and were "told" to appear expressionless during his speech.
Democrats aren't likely to be convinced by the explanation. "We don't live in a dictatorship or a monarchy. I swore an oath—in the military and in the Senate—to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap," Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois tweeted Monday, per CNN. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon added "'treasonous' means betraying your country—like, say, if someone colluded with Russia to influence American elections," per the Washington Post. (Read more President Trump stories.)