US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he will not negotiate policy with congressional Democrats while they continue to investigate him.
In a hastily arranged appearance in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said it’s impossible to negotiate on infrastructure or other issues while the inquiries continue.
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“You can’t do it,” Trump said.
Trump complained about the investigations after he abruptly ended a meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and others that was supposed to be about an infrastructure plan.
The president blasted the Democratic leaders after Pelosi accused him of engaging in a cover-up.
“I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump said, declaring that Democrats had to choose whether to investigate him or work together on the country’s priorities.
Trump 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”.
Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat who attended the meeting, told Al Jazeera that Wednesday was a “real missed opportunity”.
“We need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time,” Carper said. “There’s going to be investigations of this administration for a while and to say that we are not going to engage on infrastructure and other things because of those investigations, I don’t know how realistic that is. It’s disappointing.”
The president has long criticised the Democratic investigations and Mueller’s inquiry into Russian election meddling to his personal finances and businesses.
The Democratic probes range from whether Trump obstructed justice during Mueller’s investigation to his personal finances and businesses.
Pelosi and other senior House leaders have been trying hard for months to contain demands from more junior Democratic politicians to kick off impeachment proceedings.
Those demands mounted on Wednesday after former White House Counsel Don McGahn ignored a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to appear before it and testify. Trump has broadly stonewalled most all of their investigations, saying he will fight “all the subpoenas”.
Pelosi urged Democrats to be patient, but added that a cover-up could be an impeachable offence.
Other Democratic leaders, who have been hesitant, signalled that a march to impeachment may become inevitable.
“We are confronting what might be the largest, broadest cover-up in American history,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters. If a House inquiry “leads to other avenues, including impeachment” the Maryland Democrat said, “so be it”.
Later on Wednesday, Trump accused Democrats of “tearing the United States apart” in a series of tweets.
“You can’t investigation and legislate simultaneously,” he said.
With additional reporting by William Roberts in Washington, DC.