Trump refused to discuss infrastructure unless Democrats stopped investigating him, senator says

·3 min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Donald Trump shut down infrastructure talks during his presidency and threatened there wouldn’t be a deal unless Democrats stopped investigating him, according to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin.

As Joe Biden’s $1.2trn infrastructure package threatens to unravel over how to pay for the massive spending bill, Mr Durbin said Mitch McConnell was pressuring Republicans not to negotiate with Democrats following Mr Trump’s latest calls on Monday for the party to back out of the deal.

Mr Durbin said on the Senate floor that the former president’s refusal to work with Democrats on infrastructure dates back to a May 2019 meeting at the White House where he said no deal on infrastructure would be made while he was being investigated by Democrats.

"He walked in the room, and he said to all of us assembled there, ‘As long as you’re investigating me for any reason there’ll be no infrastructure bill’," Mr Durbin said.

"Wheeled around and walked out. That was the end of the conversation about infrastructure in the Trump administration. It was never seriously considered or debated after that."

In May 2019, at least 12 congressional investigations were probing Mr Trump after Democrats took control of the House that year, according to The New York Times tracking.

The House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight Committees were investigating allegations of abuse of power, communications with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and money laundering.

The House and Senate Intelligence committees opened inquiries into potential foreign influence, attempts to obstruct justice, and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee had an inquiry into the possible role of Trump in concealing hush-money payments, abuses of the White House security clearance process, whether he misrepresented his net worth, and a proposed US nuclear venture in Saudi Arabia.

The House Judiciary Committee looked into possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by Mr Trump and his administration.

In addition to the Democrat-led inquiries in Congress, Mr Trump was also facing 10 federal criminal investigations and eight state and local investigations, according to the Times.

Before that meeting, Mr Durbin said Mr Trump had agreed at a previous meeting to a $2trn infrastructure package on issues from roads and bridges to broadband and school buildings.

"It was one of the best meetings," Mr Durbin said. "Today, former President Trump has joined the chorus saying [Republicans] shouldn’t bargain at all with Democrats. Put it off another year, or two years, whatever it has to be until the Republicans control the whole process," he added.

Senators had hoped to announce on Monday a bipartisan deal on infrastructure but late changes threaten to derail the previously agreed package.

Earlier on Monday, Mr Trump waded back into the infrastructure negotiations to call denounce the Republicans like Mitt Romney negotiating the deal as getting "absolutely savaged by Democrats".

"Mitch McConnell and his small group of RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) wants nothing more than to get a deal done at any cost to prove that he can work with the Radical Left Democrats," Mr Trump said in a statement.

"It is so important to him that he is agreeing to almost anything. Don’t do the infrastructure deal, wait until after we get proper election results in 2022 or otherwise, and regain a strong negotiating stance. Republicans, don’t let the Radical Left play you for weak fools and losers!"