82°F
weather icon Clear

Trump drops infrastructure talks over Pelosi ‘cover-up’ comment

Updated May 22, 2019 - 2:34 pm

WASHINGTON — Planned talks between President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders on bipartisan infrastructure legislation fell apart Wednesday, with Trump instead holding a news conference in the Rose Garden where he warned that there was only one track forward: either “investigation” or “investment.”

Trump told reporters that he was enraged that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said that he had “engaged in a cover-up” ahead of the meeting. Supporters framed the remark as provocative and Trump told reporters it prompted him to cut off talks, even though he really wanted to put together a strong infrastructure package.

Pelosi’s comment earlier Wednesday referred to Trump’s stonewalling of multiple congressional investigations by ignoring subpoenas, refusing to allow current and former advisers to testify and not handing over documents.

In the last month, Pelosi had been trying to hold back Democrats eager to begin impeachment proceedings. Aware of the political risks in 2020, Pelosi has warned, “Trump is goading us to impeach him.”

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that more than half of Americans believe multiple congressional investigations of the president interfere with important government business, while 45 percent said Trump should be impeached.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer returned to Capitol Hill after a brief meeting with the president and said they remain interested in working out a bipartisan infrastructure deal. “Unfortunately,” Pelosi said, “the president isn’t ready.”

Trump denied that, telling reporters that he was ready to talk infrastructure — and “that’s one of the easy ones. And instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk in to look at people that had just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don’t do cover-ups. You people know that probably better than anybody.”

But Tuesday night, Trump sent the two Democratic leaders a letter telling them that they should pass his trade deal with Mexico and Canada before turning to infrastructure.

‘Big and bold deal’

Wednesday’s confrontation was a dramatic departure from a meeting last month, when Pelosi and Schumer emerged from a White House meeting with Trump with the news that all sides had agreed to a “big and bold deal,” as Schumer put it.

Schumer noted that Trump had agreed “to present his ideas” on how to pay for the infrastructure initiative, as only funding with Trump’s support could make it through the Republican-controlled Senate.

It seemed like a tall order and it was.

Last year, Democrats released a proposal to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure projects over 10 years. The White House proposed a decade-long $1.5 trillion package of public-private spending that would have been fueled with $200 billion in federal seed money. Neither package went anywhere.

Back on Capitol Hill after Trump’s Rose Garden remarks, Schumer asserted, “it was planned” that Trump would cut short the meeting and invite the White House press corps to the Rose Garden as a deliberate ploy to avoid presenting a plan to find the revenue for the 10-year package.

“Hello,” said Schumer. “There were investigations going on three weeks ago when we met and he still met with us. But now that he was forced to say how he’d actually pay for it, he had to run away.”

In the afternoon, Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., opened a hearing for Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, which she chairs, by faulting Trump for saying “that he won’t work with Congress on any legislation – even if it benefits this country – unless Congress ignores its constitutional responsibility to carry out oversight of the administration.

“If the President wants to hold good-paying jobs hostage, that’s his choice, but it certainly isn’t mine. And I don’t believe it is of this committee,” Titus added. “It is beneath the dignity of the office for the president to suggest that he’ll allow bridges to collapse, airports to overcrowd, and ports to deteriorate unless we end our investigations.”

Trump strategy

“I think he’s being strategic. I think he’s needling them,” observed Saikrishna Prakash of the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. “Because once they impeach him, it’s over” because the GOP Senate is unlikely to reach the two-thirds needed to convict and remove Trump from office.

Meanwhile, Prakash sees Democrats who have said Trump is guilty of obstruction tangled in their own rhetoric: “If it’s true, they should have already begun impeachment proceedings.”

Center for American Progress fellow Max Bergmann, who favors impeachment, thought likewise. He believes Trump is thinking, “Democrats aren’t prosecuting the case against me, so the way I can demonstrate my innocence, the way I’ll throw it in their face” is by arguing “that the fact that they’re not prosecuting me as a sign of my innocence.”

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or at 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
THE LATEST
Court says US can reject asylum along parts of Mexico border

A federal appeals court’s ruling will allow the White House to begin rejecting asylum at some parts of the U.S.-Mexico border for migrants who arrived after transiting through a third country.

Greenland advises Trump it’s not for sale

“We see it as an expression of greater interest in investing in our country and the possibilities we offer,” the government said. “Of course, Greenland is not for sale.”

Trump ties US economic success to winning 2nd term

President Donald Trump sought to reassure his supporters about the state of the U.S. economy in New Hampshire, a state that he hopes to capture in 2020, that their financial security depends on his reelection.