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Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans caught in California's recall trap Raise the debt limit while starting to fix the budget 'Justice for J6' organizer calls on demonstrators to respect law enforcement MORE (D-Calif.) defended meeting with President TrumpDonald TrumpKinzinger says Trump 'winning' because so many Republicans 'have remained silent' Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol MORE to discuss infrastructure legislation amid White House stonewalling of Democrats' investigations, arguing that her party has leverage in the talks.
Pelosi, as well as Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) and other top Democrats, met with Trump at the White House last week and agreed to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure package. That came the same week Attorney General William BarrBill BarrClinton lawyer's indictment reveals 'bag of tricks' Attorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Milley moved to limit Trump military strike abilities after Jan. 6, Woodward book claims: report MORE declined to provide the House Judiciary Committee with the unredacted version of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE's report or appear for a hearing.
Despite the friction, Pelosi said Democrats have an obligation to work on infrastructure — if they believe both sides can reach an agreement — while pursuing investigations of the Trump administration.
"People say to me, ‘How can you go talk to him about infrastructure when they won’t give us the information for the Mueller Report?’ and I say, I have to. If we think that there’s a way that we can build the infrastructure of our country working in a bipartisan way, we have that responsibility. We can handle it. We can also make sure that the Constitution is respected," Pelosi said in an appearance on Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's "Chicago Stories" podcast posted Tuesday.
Pelosi argued Trump's desire to pursue an infrastructure package and show that he can get things done, aside from the GOP tax overhaul in 2017, gives Democrats an advantage.
“He needs it, that gives us leverage. And I'm happy to — well, I shouldn't ever use the word happy, but — I would be delinquent if I didn’t try to work with him to get something done for the American people," Pelosi said.
When asked by Emanuel if she believed Trump is serious about getting infrastructure done, Pelosi replied: “I do. Because he needs it. He has nothing. What does he have to call a tax bill that gave 83 percent of the benefits to the top 1 percent in our country? That's his accomplishment."
But an infrastructure package may face long odds despite being a rare area of agreement between Trump and Democrats. Republicans in Congress warned last week that a $2 trillion package is too big and that they'll oppose any measure that adds to the deficit.
Trump and Democratic leaders plan to meet again in the coming weeks to discuss how to pay for the proposal.
In the same appearance, Pelosi reiterated her message that Democrats shouldn't take the bait as Trump and Republicans try to "goad" them toward impeachment, at the expense of focusing on policy issues they campaigned on in 2018. Republicans have sought to pressure Democrats on impeachment in an effort to highlight the divisions among the left on whether the House should move to oust Trump from office.
"That’s why I have said when people keep after me on the impeachment, he’s not worth it. He’s not worth it because he wants us to go to that place so that we’re not focusing on whatever else," Pelosi said.
Pelosi also dismissed the idea of pursuing censure as opposed to impeachment. A few Democrats, like Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenOmar leads lawmakers in calling for US envoy to combat Islamophobia Trump says being impeached twice didn't change him: 'I became worse' Five big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee MORE (D-Tenn.), had floated censure as a way to formally reprimand Trump in response to the Mueller report's findings on Russia's election interference and the president's efforts to undermine the investigation.
“Censuring to me is weak — it’s weak, it’s nothing. If you think he should be impeached, impeach him," Pelosi said. "These people have to pay a price, not get rejected by the House of Representatives and then get cleared by the Senate."