President Donald Trump hijacked his own White House “Infrastructure Week” with a public meltdown on Wednesday—calling a surprise press conference to announce he had told Congress’ top Democrats that if they don’t stop investigating him, he’s done talking.
“Get these phony investigations over with,” he said he told them.
Trump suggested that he called off his meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer because he was disgusted that Pelosi had accused him of a cover-up earlier in the morning.
But Schumer said the tantrum had all the hallmarks of a set-up, noting placards printed with details about the Mueller investigation were perched in front of the podium in the Rose Garden.
“He came up with this pre-planned excuse,” Schumer said.
Trump stood in front of that podium for roughly 10 minutes, ranting about House Democratic-led investigations, implying that he would halt cooperation on legislation with House Democrats until the investigations and subpoenas against Trump, his family, his administration, and his business empire were completed or scrapped.
“I walked into the room,” Trump told the gathered reporters of his meeting. “I told Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure... but I can’t do it under these circumstances.”
The president seemed particularly incensed by Pelosi’s comments, following a meeting with the Democratic Caucus on Wednesday morning, that he was engaged in a “cover-up.”
“Instead of walking in happily to a meeting [today], I walk in to look at people who said I was doing a cover-up,” Trump said during the press conference. “I don't do cover-ups.”
After the president’s remarks, Pelosi told reporters, “I pray for the president of the United States. I pray for the United States.”
Schumer addressed Trump’s demand that the House probes be halted. “There were investigations going on three weeks ago when we met. And he still met with us,” he said. “But now that he was forced to say how he would actually pay for [an infrastructure package], he had to run away.”
Schumer accused Trump of planning this well before their meeting.
“It’s clear that this was not a spontaneous move on the president’s part,” Schumer said. “When we got in the room [at the White House], the curtain was closed...There was a place for him at the front where he could stand and attempt to tell us why he wouldn’t do infrastructure.”
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for clarification on what happened behind closed doors on Wednesday morning.
Going into this latest, incredibly short round of talks, neither the Democratic side nor Trumpworld seemed very optimistic. Late last month, a senior White House official characterized the state of play to The Daily Beast by saying that “people [in the Trump administration] who say that this time it’s going somewhere are lying to you,” and rhetorically asked, “How many times do we have to go through this?”
By noon on Wednesday, Trump’s latest Infrastructure Week had indeed blown up entirely.