Trump knocks Mulvaney for casting doubt on chances of infrastructure deal

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE in a new interview chided acting chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOn The Money: Judge rules banks can give Trump records to House | Mnuchin pegs debt ceiling deadline as 'late summer' | Democrats see momentum in Trump tax return fight | House rebukes Trump changes to consumer agency House rebukes Mulvaney's efforts to rein in consumer bureau The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE for throwing cold water on the chances of completing an infrastructure deal with Democrats.

In an interview on "The Next Revolution" on Fox News, host Steve Hilton noted Mulvaney's skeptical comments coincided with a meeting late last month between Trump and Democratic leaders at the White House.

"If Mick Mulvaney said that then he has no right to say that," Trump said. "He tells me didn’t say that, and he didn’t mean it. He said it’s going to be hard to finance."

ADVERTISEMENT

Mulvaney was asked during an appearance at a Milken Institute conference in California last month about the prospects of an infrastructure package coming to fruition.

"Do I think there’s an interest in doing it? Yes. Do I think there’s probably more interest, especially on the Democrats' part, to make a show for trying to get a deal? Yeah," Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney indicated that he had expressed reservations to Trump about the viability of an infrastructure deal bearing fruit before he left office. He pointed to government regulations that lengthen the process and argued Democrats would be unwilling to eliminate those rules.

Trump told Hilton in the interview, set to air Sunday evening, that he still wants to work on infrastructure. But the president himself expressed concerns that Democrats might be luring him into a trap.

"I also think we’re being played by the Democrats a little bit," he said. "You know I think what they want me to do is say ‘Well what we’ll do is raise taxes,’ and we’ll do this and this and this, and then they’ll have a news conference, see, Trump wants to raise taxes. So it’s a little bit of a game.”

Democratic lawmakers and Trump agreed following last month's meeting to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure package.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing talks MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' MORE (D-N.Y.) are scheduled to return to the White House next week for a follow-up meeting to discuss how to fund the proposal. It's unclear if other lawmakers, including any Republicans, will attend.

A sweeping infrastructure package was thought to be one of the few areas where Democrats and the White House could find common ground, but members of both parties have raised some concerns about the prospect of such a deal.

Congressional Republicans have signaled they are unlikely to support an infrastructure package with such a hefty price tag unless they can reach a deal on how to pay for it without adding to the deficit. 

Some Democrats have questioned whether it's worth it to give Trump a win on infrastructure when the president has stonewalled investigative oversight efforts. Others in the party have argued the Democrat-held House should move forward with an infrastructure bill regardless of White House buy-in and put pressure on Republicans to act.