May 22 (UPI) — A meeting between President Donald Trump and the top two Democrats in Congress ended abruptly Wednesday when talks about U.S. infrastructure turned to impeachment.
The long-planned meeting was supposed to get into details of the administration’s $2 trillion U.S. infrastructure plan — but it followed a private meeting between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several Democrats, at which they discussed ongoing House investigations of Trump and possibly beginning impeachment proceedings stemming from the Russia inquiry.
Trump ended the White House meeting when Pelosi accused him of participating in a cover-up.
“We had hoped that we could give this president an opportunity to have a signature infrastructure initiative to create jobs, improve the quality of life, to just do so much for our country,” Pelosi told reporters. “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.”
Schumer said Trump had no intention of talking about infrastructure.
“To watch what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop,” Schumer said afterward. “We came here very seriously. … We are interested in doing infrastructure. It’s clear the president isn’t.”
Democratic investigations are focused on the report by special counsel Robert Mueller, which said it found no evidence of Russian collusion — but noted several examples in which Trump may have obstructed justice by attempting to disrupt Mueller’s inquiry.
During an impromptu news conference in the Rose Garden Wednesday, Trump said he won’t talk to Democrats again until the investigations are over.
“Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk in to look at people that have just said that I was doing a cover up. I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump said.
“These people were out to get us.”
Trump told reporters the Russia probe was a “hoax” and a “horrible thing” that “hurt us in so many ways.”
Trump referred to the subject of impeachment as the “i word” — warning that Democratic efforts set a dangerous precedent because it would mean a future Democratic president could be impeached “for any reason.”
“So get these phony investigations over with,” he said.
The White House meeting occurred one day after former presidential counsel Don McGahn failed to appear before the House judiciary committee to answer questions related to the Mueller report. U.S. Attorney General William Barr also failed to appear this month on similar advice from the White House.
Rep. Mark Pocan, co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the stonewalling “only enhances the president’s appearance of guilt” and “has pushed Congress to a point where we must start an impeachment inquiry.”
Trump tweeted earlier Wednesday his frustration with the Democratic actions.
“After two years of an expensive and comprehensive Witch Hunt, the Democrats don’t like the result and they want a DO OVER. In other words, the Witch Hunt continues!
Some Democrats fear that going ahead with impeachment actions could sow discord within the party, which could be harmful in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. More than 20 Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden and 2016 contender Bernie Sanders, are vying for the party nomination to take on Trump next year.
A poll last month showed nearly 50 percent of respondents believed Congress should not begin impeachment hearings against Trump; 17 percent favored the action. More than a third favored continuing to investigate Trump without impeachment hearings.