Congress

‘For the good of the country’: Pelosi hopes Trump family or staff stage an intervention

Speaker says president deployed ‘bag of tricks’ to avoid infrastructure meeting he was unprepared for

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Thursday, May 23, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s family or staff should stage an intervention, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday, noting she’s concerned for his well-being and that of the country.

“I pray for the president of the United States,” the California Democrat said. “I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.”

The speaker’s comments came during her weekly press conference as she discussed the president “storming out” of an infrastructure meeting with Democratic leaders Wednesday. 

Trump told Pelosi that he doesn’t want to work with Democrats on infrastructure or other legislation until they end their investigations into him.

Pelosi had also offered her prayers for the president after that meeting dissolved, prompting Trump to later tweet, “Nancy, thank you so much for your prayers, I know you truly mean it!”

On Thursday the speaker offered several explanations for Trump’s behavior, one of which was that he was “not up to the task” of presenting Democrats his proposals to pay for a $2 trillion infrastructure package they had agreed to in a previous meeting.

“He obviously was not prepared and so he used some excuse to go out the door,” she said. 

Trump had “started sending signals that he might not be ready or interested” the night before the meeting with his letter saying doesn’t want to advance infrastructure package until after Congress votes on the United States — Mexico — Canada Agreement.

“That was a strange juxtaposition,” Pelosi said of the letter.

Trump in a Rose Garden press conference Wednesday claimed he decided not to engage in infrastructure talks after hearing Pelosi accuse him of being engaged in a “cover-up,” which he denied. 

Pelosi said while she’s sure that word “struck a chord” that’s not the real reason Trump lashed out. 

“We’ve been saying cover-up for a while,” she said. 

At his own weekly news conference, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was asked if the president conducted himself in a presidential manner at the infrastructure meeting Wednesday. McCarthy answered by criticizing Pelosi.

“The idea, as a speaker of the United States Congress, would walk out and claim something that was not true, right before she walks to meet with the president. To me, that’s irresponsible,” McCarthy said, ostensibly referring to the use of the word cover-up.

“I think the president had been working on infrastructure,” McCarthy said of Trump.

For his own part on Thursday, the president labeled Democrats the “DO NOTHING PARTY!” in tweets.

Rather, Pelosi said she thinks Trump was upset that he is losing the battle in the courts about information he wants to withhold from Congress. Two federal judges ruled this week, one Monday and one late Wednesday, that financial firms Trump worked with are obliged to comply with congressional subpoenas for his financial records. 

In addition to the court cases, Pelosi said she thinks Trump is frustrated that Democrats aren’t taking his bait as he tries to goad them into impeachment — something she’s accused him of doing on multiple occasions.

“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,” she said.

Situations in which the president throws a “temper tantrum” are becoming more predictable, Pelosi said.

“The president has a bag of tricks and the White House has a bag of tricks that they save for certain occasions,” she said. “They don’t necessarily apply to the occasion, but they’re a distraction.”

 Trump is a “master of distraction,” Pelosi said. “That’s something that he does well, to distract from problems he has.”

As for Trump’s blanket assertion that he won’t work with Democrats on any legislation until Democrats’ investigations conclude, Pelosi mused, “Maybe he wants to take a leave of absence. I don’t know.”

Chris Marquette contributed to this report.

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