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.’”
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 CNNhe “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.”
President Donald Trump expressed frustrations against his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, for questioning the prospects of striking a deal with Democrats on an infrastructure plan, placing doubt on whether Mulvaney actually criticized the plan even though his comments were captured on camera.
In a newly released clip of a Fox News interview airing Sunday, Trump was asked whether he still wants to pursue a large infrastructure plan with Democrats even though Mulvaney threw cold water on the idea.
“Yeah, if Mick Mulvaney said that, then he has no right to say that. He tells me he didn’t say that and he didn’t mean it. He said it’s going to be hard to finance,” the President told “The Next Revolution” host Steve Hilton.
However, despite the President’s claim that Mulvaney hadn’t cast doubts on the plan, he did so on camera last month.
“Is this a real negotiation? I think it remains to be seen,” Mulvaney said at the Milken Institute in Beverly Hills referring to the infrastructure deal, adding, “I think there’s a much better chance of getting NAFTA passed than getting an infrastructure deal passed.”
The comment came as Democrats met with Trump and administration officials at the White House to discuss a potential infrastructure plan. Both parties suggested the meeting went well, but there hasn’t been much news on where the negotiations will go next.
Pressed further during the Fox News interview whether he’d still like to pursue an infrastructure plan with Democrats, Trump said he does want to move forward, but worried about raising taxes.
“I do, but I also think we’re being played by the Democrats a little bit,” he said.
“You know, I think what they want me to do is say, ‘well what we’ll do is raise taxes, and we’ll do this and this and this,’ and then they’ll have a news conference — see, Trump wants to raise taxes. So it’s a little bit of a game.”
While speaking in front of union builders in Ohio today, President Donald Trump slammed America’s infrastructure system, claiming it is like “a third world country” and “an embarrassment.”
Trump, who focused the speech on his passion for construction and touted that he “was always very good at building,” made the comments while pushing his plan to roll out a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure plan. However, the “third world” comparison is a particularly noteworthy one, as Trump was under fire earlier this year for reportedly calling Haiti and developing African countries “shithole nations.”
“For most of our history, American infrastructure was the envy of the world,” said Trump. “Go back 30, 40, 50 years, they would look at us like — now, we are like in many cases a third world country. It’s an embarrassment.”
He continued by pointing back to American infrastructure achievements in the past:
“We are the ones who had the imagination and the drive to get it done. But we’ve got that again. Other nations marveled as we connected our shores with transcontinental railroads and brought power to our cities that lit up the sky like no other place on earth. We built mile after mile of Internet capabilities and interstate highways to carry American products all across the country and around the globe. Nobody did it like us.”
Trump concluded the segment of the speech with a call to “rebuild this nation,” saying Americans “must reclaim that proud heritage.”
President Donald Trump on Friday said that “big decisions” loom about the cost of rebuilding of Puerto Rico in the wake of two severe hurricanes while relaying praise he said his administration had received from the island’s governor for its recovery and aid efforts.
“Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello just stated: “The Administration and the President, every time we’ve spoken, they’ve delivered,’” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday morning, an apparent reference to a Fox News interview that Rossello had given a day earlier. “The fact is that Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!”
Trump did not clarify what “big decisions” are upcoming or how the price would factor into those decisions.
Puerto Rico remains devastated in the wake of two major hurricanes, Irma and Maria, that made landfall on the island this month. The storms, especially Maria, have left much of the island without power and many of its residents without shelter. Flights in and out of the island have been limited and access to supplies, including clean drinking water, remains spotty.
Relief efforts in Puerto Rico thus far have been slower than those along the Gulf Coast for Hurricane Harvey or in Florida for Irma, in large part because of the added layer of logistical complications involved in supplying aid to an island. Criticism that recovery efforts have been slower have been compounded by Trump’s recent tirade against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, an issue to which some accused Trump of paying too much attention at the expense of storm response in Puerto Rico.
The president has said that his outbursts against the NFL and its players have not distracted him from hurricane recovery efforts.
Trump had initially refused to waive the Jones Act, a law requiring intra-U.S. shipping to be performed by U.S.-flagged vessels, telling reporters earlier this week that he had left the rule in place at the behest of the U.S. shipping industry. By Thursday, Trump had reversed course, waiving the Jones Act at the behest of Puerto Rican officials.
President Trump’s argument Tuesday that left wing groups were just as violent as the white supremacists who staged a demonstration in Charlottesville set off a firestorm of criticism from members of his own party – and raised questions about his personal views of racial tensions in the country.
Just one day after Trump sought to tamp down on controversy by condemning white supremacists for their role in racially motivated clashes in the Virginia city, the president appeared to return to his highly criticized initial response that many sides were to blame for the weekend violence.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, alt-right?” Trump told reporters in a chaotic impromptu press conference at Trump Tower. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands?”
Trump said he couldn’t make a condemnation of hate groups earlier because he didn’t “know all the facts” about an alleged white nationalist who crashed a car into a crowd of protesters, killing one person and wounded 19 others.
“I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct,” Trump said from Trump Tower in New York, after an event that was intended to be devoted to a new infrastructure executive order.
Trump has been especially quick to denounce previous terrorist attacks, including those taking place overseas. Yet he was notably reticent to pinpoint the blame for one on Saturday that involved white supremacists – a point his critics on both sides of the aisle continued to hammer.
“We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. added: “There is only one side to be on when a white supremacist mob brutalizes and murders in America.”
Several lawmakers were dismayed the president appeared to equate white supremacists with their opponents. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., tweeted: “Blaming ‘both sides’ for #Charlottesville?! No. Back to relativism when dealing with KKK, Nazi sympathizers, white supremacists? Just no.”
Another Republican, Rep. Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania, said Trump “must stop the moral equivalency! AGAIN.”
Over the weekend, Trump faced heavy criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for chiding “many sides” for their role in the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday, a statement many regarded as tepid toward racists.
Yet on Tuesday, amid questions about whether Trump meant the words behind his most recent scripted statement, the president called his initial response “fine” and blamed the press for being dishonest in its coverage.
“There was no way of making a correct statement that early,” he said at one point. “I had to see the facts. Unlike a lot of reporters – I didn’t know (prominent white supremacist) David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts.”
Trump also said “not all of those people” who attended the demonstration were not racist or neo-Nazi, but only wanted to protest the city’s plans to remove the Robert E. Lee statue.
That statement also drew catcalls from Republicans. “If you’re showing up to a Klan rally, you’re probably a racist or a bigot,” said Rep. Will Hurd, R-Tex., said on CNN.
And Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted that “the organizers of events” that led to the Charlottesville terror attack “are 100% to blame.”
The white supremacists, Rubio tweeted, are “adherents of an evil ideology which argues certain people are inferior because of race, ethnicity or nation of origin…. When (there’s an) entire movement built on anger and hatred towards people different than you, it justifies and ultimately leads to violence against them.”
Rubio offered a direct message to Trump: “Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame… (they) will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We can not allow this old evil to be resurrected.”
The president was slated to only discuss infrastructure during his appearances, but took questions from reporters for more than 15 minutes, most of them about Charlottesville. Some aides looked dismayed as he answered more questions.
During a rollicking, impromptu news conference in which Trump and reporters frequently argued and interrupted each other, the president also:
Questioned moves by local government to remove Confederate statues and monuments from public places
Trump openly wondered whether tributes to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are at risk because they were slave owners. “You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Trump said. On the other hand, Trump said local governments are free to make their own decisions on these issues.
Refused to say whether he thought the “alt-left” were as bad as the white supremacists who organized a demonstration in defense of the Robert E. Lee statue
“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said. While Trump said he condemned neo-Nazis, he said “not all of those people” at the rally were neo-Nazis or white supremacists “by any stretch.”
The Anti-Defamation League disputed Trump’s comments, tweeting that “comparisons between white supremacists & counter protesters are beyond the pale.”
Distanced himself from chief strategist Steve Bannon, whose role has been in the spotlight after the Charlottesville violence
Trump cast the former chief executive of his 2016 campaign as a late-comer to his cadre of advisers and expressed uncertainty about his fate at the White House. “Mr. Bannon came on very late,” Trump told reporters. “I like him, he’s a good man, he is not a racist, I can tell you that. But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
Refused to answer a question on why self-proclaimed Nazis say they support him
“They don’t,” Trump responded.
Said he had a plan to the nation’s racial divide
That plan involves creating more – and better – jobs.
“If you are still defending Donald Trump at this point, you are not a good person,” tweeted Jill Biden, the wife of former Vice President Joe Biden.
The news conference capped a day in which Trump returned to his residence in the gold-leaf comfort of Trump Tower for the first time since he took office in January – but it hasn’t been a particularly joyful homecoming.
Amid rush hour, after the rain, protestors returned to Fifth Avenue with bullhorns and placards in hand to protest Trump’s views of race, immigration, and other issues. “New York hates you,” read one sign. Police placed a protest area about a block-and-a-half from Trump Tower.
Trump huddled with staff and signed an executive order on infrastructure Tuesday – at a podium affixed with the presidential seal in front of the elevator bank – that did little to change the conversation.
The infrastructure announcement – intended to streamline the permitting process for infrastructure projects – is part of Trump’s ongoing effort to try and toll back federal regulations that he says undermine economic development. Many of the targeted regulations involve environmental restrictions.
Yet even as Trump heralded the order as a way to promote jobs, business leaders within his circle appeared to be more focused on the president’s response to Charlottesville.
So far, five senior leaders from president’s business council have stepped down amid criticism that Trump was too slow to directly condemn violence involving white supremacists.
After his press conference, another member of his council – Richard Trumka, president of the The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations – announced he would step down. “I cannot sit on a council for a President that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism; I resign, effective immediately,” tweeted Trumka.
Activists are continuing to pressure remaining members to follow suit.
“No adviser committed to the bipartisan American traditions of government can possibly believe he or she is being effective at this point,” tweeted Lawrence Summers, a former high-level economic adviser to Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Yet Trump has done little to stem the controversy. Hours after making a formal statement Monday denouncing those who perpetuate racially-motivated attacks, Trump returned Monday night to a usual line of criticism: the press. “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!”
Trump stirred up more Twitter trouble after that. In the leadup to his press conference Tuesday, he retweeted a prominent figure from the alt-right who pushed the “Pizzagate” and Seth Rich conspiracy theories, who questioned why there was no similar outrage over violence in Chicago.
He tweeted then retweeted and deleted a post that included the cartoon of a train – the “Trump train” running over a CNN reporter, an image that drew criticism in the wake of the deadly car ramming incident in Virginia.
Steady rain in midtown Manhattan kept away many protesters Tuesday – as did a heavy security perimeter that included a line of white sanitation trucks parked along Fifth Avenue, flanking the entrance to Trump Tower.
Trump is expected to return to his 17-day working vacation at his golf club in Beminster, N.J., on Wednesday.
Donald Trump backtracked against his statement a day ago and defended violent white supremacists, arguing people on the left, called the “alt-left”, are just as violent.
First, no-one uses the term “alt-left” except super-right-wing nutjobs like Sean Hannity and Richard Spencer, as a slur against everyone who isn’t their type of conservative.
Second, standing up to intolerance is not intolerance.
While there was a handful of a “anti-fascists” which use violent tactics were in attendance, most of the protesters at Charlottsville were peaceful protesters. The hours of videos at the rally absolutely proves this.
When the white supremacists arrived they were carrying shields, clubs, knives, and military-grade guns, and marched in military maneuvers as if they practiced for violent encounters.
Also, white supremacists killed a woman and critically injured over a dozen more when a car drove into a crowd of counter-protesters.