Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) dismissed President Trump‘s behavior Wednesday as “orchestrated” after he abruptly ended infrastructure talks with Democrats at the White House by citing their ongoing investigations of his administration.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday opened the door to impeachable offenses committed by President Donald Trump after he stormed out of an infrastructure meeting at the White House.
‘The fact is – in plain sight, in the public domain – this president is obstructing justice and he’s engaged in a cover-up. And that could be an impeachable offense,’ she said at the CAPS Ideas conference in Washington D.C.
The speaker warned Trump that ignoring congressional subpoenas – which he has been ordering former administration officials to do – was part of the articles of impeachment against former President Richard Nixon.
‘Ignoring this – ignoring the subpoenas of Congress was article 3 of the Nixon impeachment, article three, he did not honor the subpoenas of Congress. So it is not just the substance that we’re after, we want to have to give the truth to the American people. But in striving to get that, the intervention that the obstruction that the administration is engaged in is – as they say – the cover-up is frequently worse than the crime,’ she said.
Her remarks are the furthest she come to date about going forward on impeachment proceedings against Trump – a tactic she has worried will backfire on Democrats in the 2020 election.
Pelosi also argued that the probes being conducted by six House committees into Trump’s businesses, his taxes, his 2016 campaign and his administration are getting underneath the president’s skin.
Our investigations are ‘reaping benefits,’ she said.
Her comments came after she said earlier in the day she would not proceed with impeachment proceedings against the president amid pressure from some in her party to do just that.
And it caps an incredible back-and-forth between the legislative and executive branches on a day Democrats and Trump were supposed to sit down on an issue they agree on – infrastructure.
Before that planned meeting, Pelosi gathered Democratic lawmakers in the Capitol Wednesday morning to try and tamp down on impeachment talk
But a comment she made afterward that Trump has ‘engaged in a cover-up’ set the president off and derailed the rest of the day’s agenda.
‘We do believe that it’s important to follow the facts. We believe that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States, and we believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up,’ she told reporters in the Capitol after she met with Democrats.
Trump snapped back – storming out of a scheduled infrastructure meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to hold forth on the issue to reporters in the White House Rose Garden.
‘I don’t do cover-ups,’ Trump said. ‘You people probably know that better than anybody.’
He said he wouldn’t work with Pelosi or Schumer until they stood down.
‘When they get everything done, I’m all set to – let’s get infrastructure, let’s get drug prices down. In the meantime we’re doing excellent work without them,’ Trump said.
Pelosi described the meeting as ‘very, very, very strange.’
‘He walked away. Whether he intended to act on what he said before remains to be seen,’ she said at the CAPS Ideas conference. ‘It was very, very, very strange.’
She also said it was a ‘poor baby’ moment for Trump.
‘Instead in an orchestrated – almost poor baby point of view – he came in the room and said that I said he was engaged in a cover up and couldn’t possibly, couldn’t possibly engage in a conversation on infrastructure as long as we were investigating him,’ Pelosi said.
‘Now we were investigating him since we took over the majority so there’s nothing new in that. And then he had a press conference in the Rose Garden with all these sort visuals that were obviously planned before I said most currently he was engaged in a cover up. So it’s really sad,’ she added.
Schumer said Democrats were still willing to sit down with the president.
‘We want to work with the president on anything we can,’ he told reporters at the Capitol after the White House fracas.
And Pelosi told a press conference at the Capitol that she was praying for Trump.
‘He just took a pass. And it just makes me wonder why he did that. In any event, I pray for the president of the United States and I pray for the United States of America,’ she said.
While Democrats gave their point of view as to the day’s happenings, Trump again took to Twitter to rail against them.
‘So sad that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will never be able to see or understand the great promise of our Country,’ he wrote.
‘Nancy, thank you so much for your prayers, I know you truly mean it!,’ he added.
The infrastructure meeting was a long scheduled follow up from a sit down Democrats and the president had earlier this month on the issue.
But before that took place, Pelosi hosted a closed-door meeting with House Democrats on Wednesday at the Capitol to try to rein in lawmakers who want to see impeachment proceedings begin against Trump.
Her tactic appeared to work – for now.
Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was one of those beating the impeachment drumbeat, sounded a more muted tone after the gathering.
‘I was satisfied with the openness of the conversation,’ she told NBC News. ‘I think we’re having thoughtful conversations about it and that’s the important thing.’
Pelosi let the six committee chairman leading investigations against Trump make her case that the Democrats are investigating the president and don’t need to go as far as impeachment to continue to do so.
Additionally, a pro-impeachment faction addressed the members, lawmakers in the room said afterward.
Pelosi described it as a ‘respectful’ gathering and said the meeting wasn’t about persuading lawmakers to change their minds about impeachment.
‘It’s not a question of persuasion, we were just exchanging information and points of view,’ she said.
And she hit back at an early morning tweet from Trump who charged Democrats with sacrificing their legislative work to investigate him.
‘We do have our legislative agenda that we’re moving forward on. It was a very positive meeting, a respectful sharing of ideas, and I think a very impressive presentation by our chairs,’ Pelosi said.
Trump opened fired on Democrats Wednesday morning before the party met.
‘The Democrats are getting ZERO work done in Congress. All they are focused on is trying to prove the Mueller Report wrong, the Witch Hunt!,’ the president complained on Twitter.
Democrats in Pelosi’s corner were able to talk about victories in their probe of Trump, his businesses, his 2016 campaign and his administration.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler discussed his panel’s vote to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt for not handing over the full, unredacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
He pushed for the full House to vote on contempt of Congress for Barr this month.
He also said Mueller must testify in public, according to a Democratic source in the room. The Judiciary panel and the Justice Department are negotiating on Mueller’s testimony and reports indicate the special counsel would prefer to speak behind closed doors.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff discussed his panel’s recent agreement with the Justice Department to begin accessing parts of Mueller’s files in the Russia investigation.
And House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings pointed out that Democrats won a key court case – a federal district judge ruled on Monday that the accounting firm Mazars will need to turn over Trump’s accounting records to the panel.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren pointed out than any subpoenas in an impeachment inquiry would also have to go through the court process.
‘Regarding impeachment inquiry, we still have to go to court to get our subpoenas enforced. You know, we are winning those battles now,’ she said.
The impeachment talk among Democrats heated up in the wake of former White House counsel Don McGahn’s refusal, at the White House’s request, to comply with a subpoena for his testimony on the Russia investigation and his testimony outlined in Mueller’s report.
His refusal to appear Tuesday set off a wave of fury among Democrats.
Democratic lawmakers said afterward that Pelosi was able to tamp down on some members’ call for Trump’s head.
‘Nancy still prevails in persuading our caucus to keep your powder dry on that one,’ Rep. Gerry Connolly said afterward of the impeachment talk even as he conceded no lawmakers pushing for impeachment changed their minds.
‘The overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus continue to believe that the speaker has set forth the appropriate course which is deliberate yet forceful,’ Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said afterward.
‘There is a growing number of members who have publicly articulated a desire to move toward an impeachment inquiry but as far as I can tell the number is somewhere between 20 and 25,’ he added. ‘There are 239 members of the House Democratic Caucus, which means the overwhelming majority continue to believe that we should proceed along the course that we’re on right now.’
Some lawmakers, however, cautioned that continued defiance by the president would heat up impeachment talk again.
‘I think that we’re seeing the drumbeat moving in that direction, the more he defies us,’ Democratic Rep. Katie Hill said. ‘But I don’t think that the process is as a whole, is there.’
Pelosi was a leader in the House in the 1990s when Republicans tried to impeach then-President Bill Clinton – only to lose control of the lower chamber in the next election.
But some more liberals members have pushed to move forward with impeachment proceedings amid Trump’s defiance of congressional subpoenas for information on . his businesses and testimony from former administration officials.
The calls have even gone beyond the halls of Congress to the 2020 presidential campaign.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is running for the Democratic nomination, said during a town hall in Iowa Tuesday night that impeachment is ‘not something that I take lightly’.
‘If we do nothing because we are afraid of the polls or the politics, or the repercussions in the next election, we will set a precedent that, in fact, some people, because of the position of power and public trust that they hold, are above the law,’ he said.