House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., claimed Thursday that President Trump wants to be impeached and is upset that House Democrats are not rushing in that direction now, as tensions continued to mount between the White House and her party.
"The White House is just crying out for impeachment," Pelosi said at a news conference. "That's why he flipped yesterday." She referred to Trump's abrupt exit from a White House meeting Wednesday with Democratic leaders on the nation's infrastructure.
Speaking to a closed-door meeting of top House Democrats earlier Thursday, Pelosi speculated that Trump thinks he would benefit politically from being impeached in the House and acquitted in the Republican-led Senate.
"He wants to be impeached, so he can be exonerated by the Senate," she told her colleagues, according to a Democratic official familiar with the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Pelosi's comments came a day after Trump declared he could not work with Democrats on legislation while House investigations continue. He angrily walked out of a White House meeting with Pelosi and other top Democrats on infrastructure.
Further goading Trump, she added, "I wish that his family or his staff or his administration would have an intervention, for the good of the country."
Speaking at the White House Thursday afternoon, Trump dismissed the comment as a "very sort of a nasty type statement," argued he was calm at the Wednesday session and called Pelosi "crazy Nancy."
"She's not the same person. She's lost it," he said.
His comments came the same week a federal judge ruled for the second time this week that a House subpoena of Trump financial records was lawful.
"I think what really got to him was these court cases and the fact that the House Democratic caucus is not on a path to impeachment, and that's where he wants us to be," Pelosi said at her news conference.
Shortly after Pelosi wrapped up, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said at a separate news conference that it was "irresponsible" for Pelosi to suggest Trump wants to be impeached.
"She knows better than that. She knows the president does not want that," McCarthy said.
Their news conferences capped a morning in which both Democrats and the Republican president sought to cast blame ahead of what could be a thin record of legislative accomplishments in the remaining year and a half before the November 2020 elections.
During a morning television appearance, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., blasted Trump as "an erratic, helter-skelter, get-nothing-done president."
Schumer said "the show" put on by Trump on Wednesday was intended as a "coverup" of his administration's inability to work with Congress on legislative priorities such as infrastructure.
"If he were smart, he'd sit down with us," Schumer said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "We want to do this, and he's incapable of it."
Prospects for cooperation on major issues appeared at a low point after Trump walked out of the White House meeting Wednesday and staged an event in the Rose Garden chastising Democratic leaders.
In a spate of tweets after the blowup and again on Thursday morning, Trump sought to portray Democrats as the obstacle to cooperation on infrastructure, prescription drug costs and other issues.
In one tweet, he branded Democrats "THE DO NOTHING PARTY!"
"The Democrats are getting nothing done in Congress. All of their effort is about a Re-Do of the Mueller Report, which didn't turn out the way they wanted," Trump wrote.
He was referring to the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. House Democrats are continuing to probe whether Trump sought to obstruct the investigation and have been frustrated by stonewalling from the White House in response to subpoenas related to that and other probes of the administration.
"All they are geared up to do, six committees, is squander time, day after day, trying to find anything which will be bad for me," Trump tweeted Thursday. "A pure fishing expedition like this never happened before, & it should never happen again!"
In a later tweet, Trump insisted that he was "extremely calm" during his meeting with the Democrats, which both Pelosi and Schumer have characterized as a "temper tantrum."
House Democrats have passed several high-profile pieces of legislation, including on health care, ethics reform and consumer protections, but the bills have not been taken up by the Republican-led Senate.
During an appearance in the Rose Garden on Wednesday after his aborted meeting, Trump railed about Pelosi's allegation earlier that morning that he is ordering officials to duck congressional subpoenas as part of a "coverup" of his own misbehavior.
In late-night tweets on Wednesday, Trump also took aim at Pelosi for characterizing his behavior as a "temper tantrum" in a letter to House Democrats earlier in the day.
"In a letter to her House colleagues, Nancy Pelosi said: 'President Trump had a temper tantrum for us all to see.' This is not true," Trump wrote. "I was purposely very polite and calm, much as I was minutes later with the press in the Rose Garden. Can be easily proven. It is all such a lie!"
In his MSNBC interview, Schumer argued that the president's inability to work with Democrats in Congress would hurt Trump as next year's elections approach.
"Ultimately what Donald Trump campaigned on and how he won the election [in 2016] . . . is changing your lives, getting things done that make things better for you," Schumer said. "And people now see, more and more people, that he's not getting anything done. And he doesn't realize what a liability that is. The presidency is not just a reality show, and if you don't get things done for the American people, they're doing to want change again."
Asked at another point in the interview if he considers Trump a competent president, Schumer said no.
In a separate MSNBC interview, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also suggested that Trump was a difficult person with whom to negotiate.
"Very frankly, the sad thing is that there are too many instances where I've sat with the president in the White House . . . where he says one thing and that representation lasts for minutes, for hours, maybe a few days at most, and then the position changes," he said.
Hoyer was also critical of Trump's decision to abruptly end the meeting on infrastructure.
"What we saw yesterday was a refusal to lead," Hoyer said. "He abandoned any leadership, any desire to move forward, any constructive engagement with the Congress of the United States."
In explaining Trump's decision, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders pointed to a meeting convened by Pelosi earlier that morning in which House Democrats talked about the possibility of launching an impeachment inquiry against Trump. Pelosi accused Trump of a "coverup" as she left that meeting.
"That 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 with him as if nothing happened . . . That's lunacy. That's not even in the realm of possibility," Sanders said during an appearance on CNN.
Sanders also accused Pelosi of having "totally lost control of her party," suggesting that liberal members of the Democratic of the caucus are trying to pressure her into impeachment proceedings.
"At some point, she's got to make a decision about which direction she wants to take," Sanders said.
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