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
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
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)
THE LATEST
Reaction strong as Trump compares his impeachment to ‘lynching’

President Donald Trump injected racial overtones into the House impeachment inquiry Tuesday by comparing the Democratic-led investigation into his handling of U.S. policy toward Ukraine to a “lynching.” The highest-ranking African American in Congress warned Trump about making the comparison.

US troops leaving Syria for Iraq cannot stay, says military

U.S. troops leaving Syria and heading to neighboring Iraq do not have permission to stay in the country, Iraq’s military said Tuesday as American forces continued to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey’s invasion of the border region.

Lawmakers call diplomat’s account on Ukraine ‘disturbing’

Former U.S. Ambassador William Taylor detailed to lawmakers Tuesday the way President Donald Trump wanted to put the new Ukraine president “in a public box.”

Trump defends his decisions over Syria, G7

President Donald Trump on Monday addressed controversies such as Republicans breaking ranks with him over Syria and canceling a plan to hold the G7 meeting at his Miami golf course.

BLM whistleblower regains job in Nevada after firing

Craig Hoover, a rangeland specialist with the federal agency, said he was terminated after reporting illegal livestock grazing in eastern Nevada.

Israeli PM Netanyahu gives up on forming new coalition

Benjamin Netanyahu said he was returning the “mandate” to President Reuven Rivlin, who will now ask Gantz to try to form a coalition.