On Wednesday, President Donald Trump walked out of a meeting at the White House with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Moments later, he told reporters that he wouldn’t negotiate on legislation with Democrats while he was under investigation.
The meeting on Wednesday was supposed to be the second sit-down to take place between Trump and Democratic congressional leadership to specifically focus on the infrastructure. During a last-minute Rose Garden event, Trump said: “I walked into the room and I told Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, ‘I want to do infrastructure’ … but we can’t do it under these circumstances.”
Apparently, President Trump became angry earlier in the day after Pelosi said: “We believe the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up” by forbidding White House aides from giving testimony and responding to requests for documents during the ongoing congressional investigations. Trump defended himself by saying: “I don’t do cover-ups.”
According to an official from the White House who spoke to CNBC anonymously, the meeting only lasted approximately seven minutes. Trump explained to the Democrats that he wanted to do infrastructure, ”‘but you’re focused on investigating. When you’re done we can talk. Meeting over.” According to the source, Trump then walked out of the meeting.
According to a Democratic aide who spoke to NBC News, after Trump walked out of the meeting, Pelosi looked to her Democratic colleagues and said: “I knew the president was not serious about infrastructure and would find a way out.” In a statement released later in the day, the Democrat said that House Committee chairs will continue to work on “transformative infrastructure solutions that will create good-paying jobs, regardless of the President’s behavior.” Considering that the White House prepared a sign to adorn the presidential lectern, and handouts were given to reporters, it seems that Trump’s walkout had planned ahead of time.
Shortly after the meeting, while speaking to journalists, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said that there had been “high drama in the Cabinet room. We were all invited, Democratic leaders, for the follow-up meeting on infrastructure, everyone showed up, sat in their chairs, the president walked in the room and announced he was not going to go forward with the meeting, he was cancelling it.”
Durbin, who called the meeting “a setback to our country’s progress,” said that Trump “objected to the continued investigation of obstruction of justice, he said he cooperated and gave his side of the story, as we’ve heard before.” After the president’s comments, Schumer and Pelosi held an unplanned event on Capitol Hill where Schumer said that Trump’s behavior at the meeting “would make your jaw drop.”
At the end of April, a similar type of meeting was unsuccessful, as well. After the meeting, Trump and the Democrats agreed that an infrastructure package would have to contain approximately $2 trillion in funding and investments. Since then, there has been little explanation as to what needs to happen next, or where that money would come from. At the end of his comments in the Rose Garden, Trump said: “Let them finish up” their investigations “and we’ll be all set.”
Later that day, Trump posted his position on the issue in a series of posts on Twitter. In his tweets, Trump claimed: “You can’t investigate and legislate simultaneously – it just doesn’t work that way.”
Officials from the White House have declined to say which legislative efforts would be blocked until the Democrats were finished with their investigations. It’s also unclear as to which legislation might move forward regardless of Trump’s feelings about the investigation.