93°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
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.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
THE LATEST
Infighting prompts NRA’s top lobbyist to resign

The National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist resigned Wednesday, the latest development in a dizzying array of in-fighting within the gun lobbying group in recent months that has ensnared even its most ardent loyalists.

Kremlin confirms Trump-Putin ‘sidelines’ meeting at G-20

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of an international summit in Japan, the Kremlin said Wednesday, in talks that come amid bitter differences.

$4.6B border aid measure set for Senate OK; Pelosi seeks talks

The GOP-held Senate is poised to pass a bipartisan $4.6 billion measure to deliver aid to the southern border before the government runs out of money to care for thousands of migrant families and unaccompanied children. The vote comes after the chamber moved to swiftly reject a measure passed by House Democrats Tuesday night.

Justice Department sues Omarosa over financial disclosure

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against former White House staffer and reality TV star Omarosa Manigault Newman, alleging she failed to file a legally required financial disclosure after she was fired from her job in the Trump administration.

Iran won’t budge over US sanctions, says supreme leader

Iran’s supreme leader said Wednesday that Iranians will not budge or change their stand following new U.S. sanctions targeting Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his associates, the latest in a torrent of sharp verbal responses from Tehran in the wake of the measures.

Battle of sound bites: What to watch in the debates

Sixty seconds for answers, a television audience of millions and, for some candidates, a first chance to introduce themselves to voters.

Behind-the-scenes talks going on for 3rd Trump-Kim summit

North Korean and U.S. officials are holding “behind-the-scenes talks” to arrange a third summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the fate of the North’s expanding nuclear arsenal, South Korea’s president said.