Trump cuts off talks with Democrats after Pelosi accuses him of cover-up

President Trump on Wednesday cut off infrastructure talks with congressional Democratic leaders after Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said he was engaged in a “cover up,” then lit into Democrats and declared he would not work with them until their investigations are over.

After their meeting abruptly ended, Trump appeared in the White House Rose Garden and demanded that Democrats “get these phony investigations over with” before talks resume.

“I’ve said from the beginning that you probably can’t go down two tracks,” Trump said. “You can go down the investigation track or you can go down the investment track … We’re going to go down one track at a time.”

{mosads}The sudden, public blowup came as House Democratic leaders are facing increased pressure to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, which has further raised partisan tensions in Washington.

Pelosi traveled to the White House for the long-planned infrastructure meeting shortly after she met with members of her caucus to discuss possible impeachment, during which she said her colleagues agreed Trump is “engaged in a cover-up.”

“I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump responded during his remarks.

Schumer said afterwards that Trump came prepared to quickly end the meeting, despite the impromptu appearance of the president’s remarks, saying Trump stood in the Oval Office where the curtains were closed and told us “why he wouldn’t do infrastructure” while reporters waited in the Rose Garden.

The president did not shake anyone’s hand or sit in his chair, according to a person familiar with what happened in the room. He said he wanted to work on infrastructure, trade agreements and other issues but argued it wasn’t possible because “Speaker Pelosi said something terrible today and accused me of a cover up.”

Trump left the room after talking for three minutes and before anyone else could speak, the person said.

 “In any event, I pray for the president of the United States and I pray for the United States of America,” Pelosi said after the meeting.

Trump spoke at a lectern with a placard attached to it reading “No Collusion No Obstruction” and showing statistics attacking special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, and White House aides later handed reporters sheets containing some of the same information.

“To watch what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop,” Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill. “It’s clear this was not a spontaneous move on the president’s part. It was planned.”

Democrats have grown increasingly frustrated over the past few days as the White House has ramped up its effort to stymie their investigations into Trump’s administration, campaign and businesses.

The White House instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn not to testify on Tuesday to the House Judiciary Committee, depriving Democrats of the chance to hear from a key witness in the Russia probe, while invoking executive privilege to block the release of Mueller’s full report on Moscow’s election interference and Trump’s possible obstruction of justice.

That has raised the ire of rank-and-file Democrats, as well as some members of leadership, who say the moves provide grounds for impeachment — though Pelosi and her top deputies have resisted those calls.

Trump told reporters he was dismayed to learn that Pelosi had convened a meeting before their infrastructure discussion “to talk about the i-word,” referring to impeachment.

“I respect the courts, I respect Congress, I respect right here where we’re standing. But what they’ve done is abuse,” he said.

The tone was much different three weeks ago, when Democratic leaders agreed to work with Trump on a $2 trillion infrastructure plan during what was described as a cordial White House meeting when the investigations did not come up at all. The leaders agreed to meet again to discuss funding.

But obstacles began to emerge in the ensuing days, including a lack of consensus on how to pay for such a project. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill and some White House officials were also skeptical of the prospects for major legislation with the investigations ongoing and the 2020 election looming.

Schumer pointed to differences on funding — and not the investigations — as the real reason for the breakdown in talks.

“He is looking for every excuse,” the top Senate Democrat said. “Hello, there were investigations going on three weeks ago when we met and he still met with us. But now that he was forced to actually say how he would pay for it, he had to run away.”

— Jordain Carney contributed. Updated at 1:53 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Infrastructure Mueller investigation Nancy Pelosi Robert Mueller

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