President Trump, angered over comments from Speaker Nancy Pelosi that accused him of a “cover-up,” stormed out of a White House infrastructure meeting with Democrats Wednesday, claiming he was unable to work with opposing party members until they had completed their “phony investigations.”
Trump was scheduled to meet with Democrats including Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer to discuss a $2 trillion infrastructure plan, but left after just three minutes without sitting down or shaking hands with anyone, according to multiple reports.
The president entered the Cabinet Room sit-down fuming over comments Pelosi made earlier in the day, in which she told reporters she believed Trump “is engaged in a cover-up,” according to the New York Times.
As Trump later explained, he was angered by the comments and for that reason cut the meeting short, telling attendees that Pelosi had said something “terrible,” the Times reports.
After making his abrupt exit, Trump headed to the Rose Garden and unleashed a heated statement to reporters.
“So I came here to do a meeting on infrastructure with Democrats, not really thinking they wanted to do infrastructure or anything else other than investigate. And I just saw that Nancy Pelosi, just before our meeting, made a statement that, ‘We believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up,’” he said. “Well, it turns out I’m the most transparent president probably in the history of this country.”
He continued, “Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk in to look at people that have just said I was doing a cover-up. I don’t do cover-ups…. I walked into the room and I told Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, ‘I want to do infrastructure. I want to do it more than you want to do it. I’d be really good at it, that’s what I do. But you know what? You can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with.’”
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He also addressed the situation on Twitter Thursday morning, assuring his followers he was “extremely calm” during the meeting, despite “Fake News Media” reports that said otherwise.
“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,” he wrote. “Well, so many stories about the meeting use the Rage narrative anyway – Fake & Corrupt Press!”
For their parts, Pelosi and Schumer expressed surprise and disappointment, with Pelosi saying he “took a pass” on the meeting, and Schumer saying Trump’s behavior had made his jaw drop, according to the Times.
Schumer also suggested the storm-out may have possibly been staged as a stalling tactic.
“Hello! There were investigations going on three weeks ago when we met, and he still met with us,” Schumer reportedly said. “But now that he was forced to actually say how he would pay for it, he had to run away. And he came up with this preplanned excuse.”
To back his claim that the storm-out was premeditated, the New York senator cited a pre-printed sign that Trump had on display on his lectern when he got to the Rose Garden that read, “No Collusion, No Obstruction” and had statistics about Robert Mueller’s investigation.
An official, however, denied that claim to the Washington Post, telling the outlet the sign had been printed weeks earlier and that the Rose Garden statement was not planned.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also denied the allegation that Trump’s walking out of the meeting was scripted, telling CNN he “absolutely” intended to stay.
“So far what we’ve seen from the Democrats in Congress is that they are incapable of doing anything other than investigating this president,” she said.
“They spend all of their time attacking him, and the fact that they would have a meeting an hour before they are set to arrive at the White House, where Nancy Pelosi literally accuses the president of a crime and then wants to walk into his office and sit down as if nothing happened, that’s just lunacy, that’s not even in the realm of possibilities.”
The subject of Pelosi’s earlier Wednesday meeting with House Democrats was lessening mounting calls to impeach Trump — which Pelosi herself is against right now, according to the Post.
At an event the same day, Pelosi said, “I’m not sure we get more information if we do an impeachment inquiry. But if so, that’s a judgment we have to make.”
Pundits and late-night comics alike eviscerated Trump for what CBS’ Stephen Colbert called the president’s “hissy fit,” summing up his refusal to work with Congress on infrastructure as: “It’s my way, or no highways.”
As for the Cabinet Room meeting being over in three minutes, Colbert quipped, “According to Stormy Daniels, that’s two bonus minutes.”