Trump predicts Dem investigation will drive him to 2020 win

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla.—President Trump, speaking at a rally hours after the White House invoked executive privilege to block the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report, predicted congressional Democrats’ investigations would propel him to a reelection victory in 2020.  

Trump did not directly address his administration’s decision to defy a subpoena from House Democrats, a move that raised the specter of a constitutional crisis, but he said the party’s desire to probe his administration, campaign and businesses would backfire politically.   

“They want to do investigations instead of investments,” the president told a crowd of supporters at an outdoor amphitheater just steps from the Gulf of Mexico. “I think it drives us on to victory in 2020.”{mosads}

Trump said Democrats’ focus on investigations is a “disgrace” and that they should instead work with him on infrastructure, lowering drug prices and improving veterans’ health care.

As he routinely does at his campaign rallies, Trump hit a number of familiar targets: Democrats, the news media, China, illegal immigration, social media companies and even what he said was the venue’s faulty stage.

But Trump largely tiptoed around the subject that dominated the day’s discussion in the nation’s capital: his decision to assert executive privilege over the Mueller report, which preceded a House Judiciary Committee vote to cite Attorney General William Barr for contempt.

After an hours-long hearing, the panel voted on party lines to hold Barr in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena to provide an unredacted version of the report. The citation will now head to the Democratic-held House for a vote.

Trump declined on multiple occasions Wednesday to take questions from reporters to explain the decision to assert privilege over the report, and the White House closed a Cabinet meeting that was scheduled to be open to the press.

Trump mentioned Barr only in passing during the Wednesday rally but did not address the proceedings.

“Now the Democrats — we have a great attorney general — now the Democrats are saying, ‘We want more.’ You know, it was going to be like, ‘We want the Mueller report.’ Now they say, ‘Mueller report? No, we want to start all over again.’”

Outside of a pair of morning tweets, Trump also did not comment on a New York Times report that outlined $1 billion in business losses during a decade in the 1980s and 1990s.

Trump won northwest Florida by wide margins in 2016, and juicing turnout will be key to winning the state again in 2020. He spent a good portion of his speech addressing his administration’s efforts to accelerate the recovery from Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm that devastated the region last October, including a pledge for $448 billion in new disaster recovery money.

“You’re getting your money one way or another, and we’re not going to let anybody hold it up,” he said.

Trump went on to revive his long-running feud with Puerto Rico’s leaders, chiding island officials for their criticism of his response to Hurricane Maria. Scores of Puerto Rican refugees relocated to Florida after the island was ravaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Trump also focused his attention on his potential 2020 Democratic rivals, mocking them as unfit to lead the country.

“We’ve got some real beauties,” he said. “Let’s just pick somebody, please, and let’s start this thing.”

In addition to hitting Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump took aim at a new target: South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

He said the 37-year-old candidate doesn’t have the experience to go up against Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Representing us against Xi in China. That will be great,” Trump said.

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Joe Biden Pete Buttigieg Robert Mueller William Barr

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