Following a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic leadership Wednesday morning, Speaker Nancy Pelosi charged that President Trump’s refusal to cooperate in congressional investigations amounts to a “cover-up.”
But she did not indicate that the House would take up impeachment at this time.
“We believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up,” Pelosi told reporters. “In a cover-up. And that was the nature of the meeting.”
Her comments came shortly before a previously scheduled meeting with Trump and other congressional Democrats at the White House to discuss infrastructure funding.
That meeting was short-lived.
At a hastily arranged press conference in the Rose Garden, Trump fired back at Pelosi.
“I don't do cover-ups. You people know that probably better than anybody,” the president told reporters.
Trump said he walked into the room and informed Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that he wanted to “do infrastructure” but not while he’s facing congressional investigations.
“Get these phony investigations over,” the president said.
Returning to Capitol Hill, Pelosi criticized Trump for abandoning infrastructure talks.
“For some reason, maybe it was lack of confidence on his part that he couldn’t match the greatness of the challenge we have ... he just took a pass,” she told reporters.
“In any event, I pray for the president of the United States,” Pelosi added. “And I pray for the United States of America.”
Pelosi has been resisting calls from dozens of Democrats to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump. Those calls became louder Tuesday when former White House counsel Donald McGahn failed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee after Trump instructed him to defy a subpoena.
Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-Pa., vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that “the time has come to start an impeachment inquiry.”
“Congress has patiently tried to work within traditional means to get to the bottom of this extraordinary situation,” Scanlon said. “But we have reached an inflection point.”
Pelosi dismissed the notion of a growing rift in the House on the issue of impeachment, saying members were merely “exchanging information and points of view.”
She pointed to “progress” the committees have made on several fronts, including the Justice Department agreeing Tuesday to provide the House Intelligence Committee with documents from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as long as the panel agrees not to take any action against Attorney General William Barr.
On Monday, a federal judge sided with Democrats on the House Oversight Committee in its fight to obtain the president’s financial records.
The House speaker said the committees would continue to fight Trump “to get the truth and facts for the American people.”
“We believe no one is above the law, including the president of the United States,” she said.
Pelosi reiterated her “cover-up” remark at the Center for American Progress Ideas conference, an annual gathering of progressive leaders, in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon.
“The fact is, in plain sight, in the public domain, this president is obstructing justice and he’s engaged in a cover-up,” she said. “And that could be an impeachable offense.”
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