White House defends Trump-Schumer-Pelosi dinner

White House defends Trump-Schumer-Pelosi dinner
© Greg Nash
President Trump’s top spokesperson on Wednesday defended his decision to dine with Democratic congressional leaders without their GOP counterparts, accusing critics of distorting Trump’s intentions. 
“You’ve got the leader of the Republican Party sitting at the table,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters who asked why Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Gun proposal picks up GOP support GOP lawmaker Tim Murphy to retire at end of term MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.) weren’t invited to the White House dinner. 
Sanders said Trump is simply trying to have "a very open and honest conversation" with leaders of the other party.
"Anybody who tries to distort it into anything other than that is just misunderstanding what the purpose is,” she said, adding that anyone who "thinks that the Republican viewpoint isn’t being represented" is misunderstanding the situation.
Trump has faced criticism from many Republicans for cutting a fiscal deal last week with Schumer and Pelosi. They are worried that Trump undermined the leverage of the GOP, which has control of both ends of Pennsylvania Ave. for the first time in more than a decade. 
Republicans are also concerned Trump, who supported Democrats during his business career, could turn to the other party to cut deals on immigration and taxes. 
“The president is negotiating on behalf of the American people, exactly what he was elected to do,” Sanders responded. “The idea that you guys keep trying to distort this into a bad thing is I think exactly why this president was elected; they were sick and tired of business as usual.”
But Sanders also sought to reassure Republicans that Trump is not going to abandon them on key issues. 
“The president is a Republican and ideologically, that’s a much cleaner matchup,” she said of Ryan and McConnell.