President Trump on Wednesday demanded Democrats end what he called their “phony investigations” before he’ll negotiate with them on issues like infrastructure, as he delivered a fiery statement from the Rose Garden after a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer was cut short.
The president had met for mere minutes with the two Democratic leaders in a session scheduled to discuss a possible bipartisan infrastructure package. But moments before that sit-down, Pelosi had accused Trump of having “engaged in a cover-up” regarding the Russia probe.
Trump suggested the comments, and the numerous investigations into him, prevented them from negotiating. “You can’t do it under these circumstances,” Trump said. “Get these phony investigations over with.”
The president said he wanted to pursue an infrastructure proposal, but “instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk in to look at people that have just said that I was doing a cover-up.” Trump added: “I don’t do cover-ups.”
Schumer, though, said Trump’s decision to bolt the meeting and address the press in the Rose Garden was hardly spontaneous. Speaking alongside Pelosi in a separate session, he called it a “pre-planned excuse” — citing the ready-made sign that Trump had at the podium.
“We are interested in doing infrastructure,” Schumer said. “It’s clear the president isn’t. He is looking for every excuse.” In the Rose Garden, the president stood at a podium displaying a sign that said “no collusion, no obstruction.” He also lashed out at media for their coverage of the Russia probe.
“This whole thing was a takedown attempt at the president of the United States, and honestly you ought to be ashamed of yourselves for the way you reported so dishonestly,” he said. Last month, Schumer and Pelosi said Trump had agreed to support a $2 trillion infrastructure spending package. But, at the time, they said no decisions on how to pay for the plan. The president – a real estate developer before he was elected president – has long sought to strike a big infrastructure deal, but has faced some resistance from conservatives in his party over concerns about the country’s rising debt.
But questions have remained over whether Pelosi and Schumer can strike deal with Trump on infrastructure, as congressional Democrats ramp up investigations of the president and subpoena members of his administration in the wake of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia report.