President Donald Trump on Friday contended he is willing to work with Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the two traded sharp criticisms following him blowing up a Wednesday meeting about a now-scuttled possible infrastructure plan.
“I can work with the speaker,” he said. “Did you hear what she said about me long before I went after her? … I just responded in kind. You think Nancy’s the same as she was? She’s not. I think we can all say that.”
Only that the president is the only one saying it. Members of the House Democratic caucus have said the opposite, praising Pelosi’s attempts to bridge divides in her caucus while giving Trump criticism and even mocking him as well as he can dish it out.
“I still feel that you can’t go down two tracks,” he said as he departed the White House for a four-day visit to Japan, referring to House Democrats’ investigations into his 2016 campaign and actions since taking office while also trying to cut deals on major legislation.
Near the end of another impromptu mini press conference the day before, the president once again called himself a “stable genius,” prompting this response from Pelosi, via tweet: “When the ‘extremely stable genius’ starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues.”
Specifically, he talked about wanting to work with lawmakers on a plan to slash prescription drug prices by 40 percent to 50 percent — but he said to hit that target, he needs Congress to send him legislation. He also said he would like Democrats to quickly wrap up those investigations because he still wants to pursue a bipartisan infrastructure package.
“I can’t do that when all they do is try to do a redo of the Mueller report,” he said, referring to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia election meddling and obstruction of justice probe.
“It’s over. They lost,” he declared. “So there’s no redo.”
But House Democrats, including Pelosi, strongly disagree. This week, following a meeting with her caucus about demands from a growing list of House Democrats to start impeachment proceedings against him, she said she believes the president is guilty of trying to lead a “cover up.”
After Trump demanded she drop the probes or he would not do an infrastructure deal, Pelosi told reporters that his walkout reflected a “lack of confidence on his part.”
“In any event, I pray for the president of the United States. And I pray for the United States of America,” she said.
Meantime, the president signaled again he no longer is fine with Mueller testifying before congressional panels, including ones controlled by House Democrats. He said Mueller’s 488-page report should be sufficient on its own.
“Why does he have to testify? It’s ridiculous,” Trump said over the hum of Marine One’s idling engine on a warm and sunny late-spring day in Washington.
Trump also announced he will deploy 1,500 U.S. military troops to the Middle East on a force protection mission amid tensions with Iran.
“I don’t think Iran wants to fight,” he said without explaining how he reached that conclusion, adding this cryptic-but-hawkish remark: “They don’t want to fight us.”