© 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 Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden: A good coach knows when to change up the team McConnell says he made 'inadvertent omission' in voting remarks amid backlash These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 MORE (R-Ky.) weren’t invited to the White House dinner.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerVoting rights failed in the Senate — where do we go from here? Forced deadline spurs drastic tactic in Congress Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans MORE (D-N.Y.) plan to dine with the president Wednesday evening to discuss the fall’s legislative agenda.
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.