A day after President Trump had what she described as a “temper tantrum” in a White House meeting on infrastructure that lasted less than five minutes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called on his aides to step in.
“I pray for him. I wish his family or his administration staff would have an intervention for the good of the country,” Pelosi told reporters during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill. “Maybe he wants to take a leave of absence.”
Pelosi suggested Trump abruptly left the meeting because he was “ill prepared” to strike a deal with Democrats on infrastructure.
“He pulled a stunt,” Pelosi said. “He’s a master of distraction.”
The House speaker also suggested Trump was disappointed that she has resisted calls from some members of her caucus to pursue impeachment. Pelosi appeared to endorse the theory that Trump is trying to trap House Democrats by goading them into bringing impeachment charges, expecting to be acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate. This would allow him to claim vindication heading into his reelection.
“The House Democratic caucus is not on the path to impeachment,” Pelosi said. “That’s where he wants us to be.”
But Pelosi also made clear that Trump’s conduct could lead the House down that path, eventually.
"The president's behavior in terms of his obstruction of justice, the things that he is doing, it's very clear — it's in plain sight," she said. "It cannot be denied. Ignoring subpoenas. Obstruction of justice. Yes, these could be impeachable offenses."
She added: “We can walk and chew gum at the same time. I hope he can too.”
Pelosi drew the ire of Trump on Wednesday when she told reporters that his refusal to cooperate in congressional investigations amounts to a “cover-up.”
Trump, according to accounts from Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, seized on the “cover-up” remark as a reason to storm out of the meeting and announce that he would not work with Democrats while he’s facing congressional investigations.
“I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi I want to do infrastructure,” the president said at a hastily arranged press conference in the Rose Garden. “But you know what? You can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with.”
“I don't do cover-ups,” he declared.
On Thursday morning, the president dismissed the notion that he threw a “tantrum.”
“I was extremely calm yesterday with my meeting with Pelosi and Schumer, knowing that they would say I was raging, which they always do, along with their partner, the Fake News Media,” Trump tweeted. “Well, so many stories about the meeting use the Rage narrative anyway - Fake & Corrupt Press!”
He added: "When the Democrats in Congress refinish, for the 5th time, their Fake work on their very disappointing Mueller Report finding, they will have the time to get the REAL work of the people done. Move quickly!"
Appearing on CNN, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said it was "insane" to think that Trump would continue infrastructure talks after Pelosi's "cover-up" comment.
"You can't literally have a meeting like Nancy Pelosi did yesterday just an hour before she got to the White House where she accused the president of a crime, said he had engaged in a cover-up, and then show up and pretend like nothing's happened," Sanders said.
Meanwhile on Fox News, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, described a reported clash she had with Pelosi at Wednesday’s meeting.
According to the Washington Post, after Trump left the room, Conway asked Pelosi if she wanted to respond to what Trump had said.
"I'll respond to the president, not staff," Pelosi said.
"Wow, that's really pro-woman of you," Conway shot back.
“She treats everybody like they're her staff,” Conway said on Fox News. "She treats me like I'm either her maid or her driver, her pilot or her makeup artist.”
Asked about those comments at her press briefing, Pelosi said: “I’m not going to respond to her.”
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