by George Rasley
President Donald Trump abruptly quit a meeting with congressional Democrats yesterday and issued a bold statement that he would no longer work with them unless they drop their attempts to re-do the Mueller investigation.
After cutting short his meeting with the Democratic leaders, scheduled for a discussion of the huge infrastructure bill the White House floated a few weeks ago, the President justifiably lashed out at Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her comment earlier in the morning that she believed the president engaged in a “cover-up” of the Russia probe.
“I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump said forcefully, after striding to the Rose Garden where aides had gathered reporters and TV cameras for his demand that Congress drop its investigations that are increasingly leading to talk of what he called the “i-word” — impeachment, according to reporting by our friends at NewsMax.
He appeared behind a sign that listed the cost of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe and Trump’s slogans of “No Collusion” and “No Obstruction.”
“I walked into the room and I told Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi I want to do infrastructure,” he said, referring to the top Democratic senator, New York’s Chuck Schumer.
“But you know what we can’t do it under these circumstances,” Trump said. “So get these phony investigations over.”
But there’s more to President Trump’s Wednesday confrontation with Democrats than the establishment media is telling you.
“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,” Trump wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday. “It will replace the job-killing Nafta, one of the worst trade deals ever entered into by our nation. Once Congress has passed USMCA we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package.”
Trump also told Democrats he expected them to come to the table with a clear list of infrastructure priorities and ways to pay for the deal revealed Beth Bauman in a column for Townhall.
“It would be helpful, if you came to tomorrow’s meeting with your infrastructure priorities and specifics regarding how much funding you would dedicate to each,” Trump wrote according to Ms. Bauman’s reporting. “Your caucus has expressed a wide range of priorities, and it is unclear which ones have your support. I had hoped that we could have worked out these priorities following our last meeting, but you canceled a scheduled meeting of our teams, preventing them from advancing our discussions.”
Pelosi has dozens of new Democratic House members who won in competitive districts, and they need to be able to go home next year and say they’ve accomplished something to have any chance at re-election. Infrastructure rather than impeachment is what’s on their re-election agendas.
The Democrats also don’t want to go into the 2020 campaign season being the Party of Raising Taxes, and they don’t want to go into 2020 being the Party of Blowing Up the Deficit, either. So, they are only too happy to tie those two political anchors around Trump’s neck and toss him over the side of the boat.
We also figure that Republican fiscal conservatives who object to a $2 trillion infrastructure bill would find themselves isolated politically; not a good way to regain the House or protect, let alone expand the GOP’s Senate majority.
President Trump is right to link passing the MCTA, and ending the congressional witch hunt over the phony Russian collusion charges that were debunked by the Mueller report, with progress on an infrastructure bill. “Bipartisanship” can’t be a one-off arrangement; Democrats must recognize President Trump’s legitimacy and debate the details of legislation in good faith, or President Trump is perfectly justified in refusing cooperation with them on infrastructure or any other issue.