Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

Donald Trump blasts Nancy Pelosi 'cover-up' accusation

The president said he would not work with Democrats because of 'phony' investigations

US President Donald Trump speaks about the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2019. Reuters
US President Donald Trump speaks about the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, US, May 22, 2019. Reuters

US President Donald Trump fired back on Wednesday at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's accusation that he is engaged in a cover-up over special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.

"I don't do cover-ups," Mr Trump said in a hastily arranged appearance.

Visibly angered by Ms Pelosi's remarks, he said he would not work with Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, on a major infrastructure proposal because of "phony" investigations they are pursuing in Congress.

Mr Trump said he was upset that Democrats discussed the possibility of impeaching him before a White House meeting on infrastructure.

He repeated his previous comments about Mr Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in Mr Trump's favour in the 2016 US presidential election, and whether he impeded the inquiry.

"No collusion, no obstruction, no nothing," Mr Trump said. "This whole thing was a take-down attempt at the President of the United States."

He said he told senior Democrats that he would not work with them on the infrastructure project until they ended the investigations.

"I walked into the room and I told Senator [Chuck] Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, 'I want to do infrastructure'," Mr Trump said.

"'I want to do it more than you want to do it. I'd be really good at that – that's what I do.

"'But you know what? You can't do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with'."

At a media briefing alongside Mr Schumer, the Democrats' leader in the Senate, Ms Pelosi said Mr Trump might have lacked the confidence to work with Democrats on infrastructure. She said she prayed for him.

Mr Schumer said watching what happened at the meeting between the president and Democratic legislators "would make your jaw drop".

He said that when Mr Trump was asked how he would pay for an infrastructure plan, "he had to run away".

As Democrats in Congress debated impeaching Mr Trump on Wednesday, Ms Pelosi said about an hour before the White House meeting that Mr Trump was engaged in a cover-up.

The president is blocking congressional investigations by ignoring subpoenas, refusing to allow current and former advisers to testify, and not handing over documents, steps that have aggravated a confrontation with Congress.

"No one is above the law, including the president of the United States," Ms Pelosi said. And we believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up."

Mr Trump and Democrats, who control the House, are in a high-stakes power struggle over their ability to investigate him, with the president increasingly asserting that his advisers need not respond to their inquiries.

Their investigations include whether Mr Trump obstructed justice during Mr Mueller's inquiry, and his personal finances and business.

As the confrontation has escalated, Ms Pelosi and other senior House leaders have been trying to quieten demands from more junior Democrats to start impeachment proceedings, urging them to give court action time to progress.

The Democratic House intelligence committee chairman has agreed to hold off enforcing a subpoena against Attorney General William Barr after the Justice Department said it would turn over material relating to Mr Mueller's probe.

"The Department of Justice this week will begin turning over to the committee 12 categories of counter-intelligence and foreign intelligence materials," committee chairman Adam Schiff said on Wednesday.

Several House Democrats left Wednesday morning's meeting saying that Mr Schiff's deal might cool some of the passion for immediately moving towards impeachment

But impeachment demands have mounted since former White House Counsel Don McGahn ignored a subpoena from the House judiciary committee on Tuesday to appear before it and testify.

Democratic Representative Gerry Connolly said Ms Pelosi was working to balance the demands of Democrats in the House.

But Mr Connolly said: "I am increasingly concerned that this president has committed impeachable offences."

Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell, a member of the House ways and means committee that is demanding Trump's tax returns, said he agreed with Ms Pelosi and most committee chairpeople on not jumping to impeachment yet.

Mr Pascrell has been a critic of Ms Pelosi critic, but "on this one I think she's absolutely correct; the methodical approach".

Updated: May 23, 2019 03:52 AM