Trump battles with Democrats as impeachment pressure grows

By Meg Wagner, Brian Ries and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 2239 GMT (0639 HKT) May 23, 2019
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12:46 p.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Trump erupted over Nancy Pelosi's "cover-up" remark, source says

From CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jeremy Diamond and Pamela Brown

JIM WATSON / Contributor
JIM WATSON / Contributor

President Trump erupted this morning when he heard Nancy Pelosi accuse him of engaging in a cover up, according to a source familiar with his reaction.

Though he lashed out at the investigations overall in the Rose Garden, this person says he was the angriest about her remark.

Officials insist that if she had not said that, the infrastructure meeting would have gone on as scheduled. 

"Bottom line: if Nancy Pelosi had not come out this morning and said what she said about "cover up," they would still be in there right now meeting on infrastructure," one senior White House official argued.

The official said "all was on track" until Pelosi made those comments this morning, setting Trump off.

Officials then scrambled to set up a Rose Garden event for Trump to address the media after his brief meeting with Democrats, as Kevin reported.

Trump met with the Democrats on infrastructure three weeks ago while the investigations were going on, and they were not brought up, the Democrats said. But Trump had voiced concern in recent days that he was being “played by Democrats” on infrastructure.

“You know I think what they want me to do is say, ‘Well what we'll do is raise taxes,’ and we'll do this and this and this, and then they'll have a news conference, see, Trump wants to raise taxes,” Trump said. 

What Pelosi said: Pelosi on Monday night said the committees were on course to be successful and Democrats' message must be "No one is above the law," and that they are witnessing "the cover-up." The California Democrat also said they all agreed they needed to get to the truth, but that the public believes kitchen table issues must also be dealt with.

12:24 p.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Here's this week's developments in the various investigations into Trump

To give a sense of the atmospherics around President Trump's White House and its relationship with Congress and the Department of Justice, here are some of developments this week regarding the various investigations:

  • House Judiciary subpoenas Hope Hicks, who is close to the president and knows the inner workings of his campaign and administration and Annie Donaldson whose notes and recollections were key for Mueller’s report.
  • Michael Cohen search warrants unsealed showing the extent of concern that Mueller investigators had about foreign influence through Cohen.
  • House Intelligence committee released hundreds of pages of Michael Cohen transcripts filled with allegations about the president’s conduct.
  • DOJ agrees to hand over underlying Mueller materials to House Intelligence committee.
  • The President, his family and company are appealing a lower court ruling to hand over his financial information to House Oversight by next week. Trump’s team has not sought to stay that ruling yet, with five days to go before Mazars must hand over the documents.
  • Trump attorneys are in court today in New York to stop a second congressional subpoena, of Deutsche Bank.
  • New York State is about to pass a law to allow for tax records to be handed over to congressional committees.
  • Nadler threatening next steps to force Don McGhan to testify after the White House directed him not to cooperate.
12:16 p.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Schumer says Democrats were set up in their meeting with Trump today

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said that, while President Trump told Democrats today that he couldn't work with them while investigations are pending, he had been working with the party for weeks before — while investigations were going.

"But now that he was forced to actually say how he would pay for it, he had to run away," Schumer said.

Here's how he described Democrats' 5-minute meeting with the President this morning:

And he came up with this preplanned excuse. And one final point — it's clear that this was not a spontaneous move on the President's part. It was planned. When we got in the room, the curtains were closed. The President — there was a place for him at the front so he could stand and attempt to tell us why he wouldn't do infrastructure. And, of course, then he went to the Rose Garden with prepared signs that had been printed up long before our meeting.

Schumer added: "We are interested in doing infrastructure. It's clear the President isn't."

12:16 p.m. ET, May 22, 2019

The White House planned that Rose Garden event earlier this morning 

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Chip Somodevilla / Staff
Chip Somodevilla / Staff

White House officials began planning earlier this morning for the Rose Garden event in which the President announced he couldn't work with Democrats as they proceed with their investigations.

Aides printed the podium poster and created handouts after Speaker Pelosi made her comment about Trump engaging in a "cover-up" -- but did not disinvite Pelosi or Sen. Schumer from their planned meeting on infrastructure.

Trump wanted to inform the Democrats of his move in person, according to an aide, leading to the 5-minute meeting in the Cabinet Room.

12:09 p.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Nancy Pelosi: I pray for the President and the United States of America

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelsoi said that after long promising to work on infrastructure, President Trump "took a pass."

"He just took a pass. And it just makes me wonder why he did that," she said. "I pray for the President of the United States. And I pray for the United States of America."

Some context: Pelosi and Trump were supposed to meet this morning to talk about infrastructure alongside Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer. That meeting lasted only five minutes and ended after Trump said he could not work with Democrats amid investigations.

Here's how Schumer described the meeting:

"To watch what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop."

12:08 p.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Moments after Trump blasts Democrats, Nancy Pelosi starts out by talking about infrastructure

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer are holding a press conference right now, moments after President Trump convened the media in the Rose Garden to slam Democrats.

She began by talking about infrastructure.

The two leaders met with President Trump about infrastructure. That meeting lasted only five minutes, a source a direct knowledge told CNN.

11:57 a.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Trump had a poster about the Mueller report's cost ready to go for this impromptu speech

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump just spoke in the White House Rose Garden to address the "cover-up" comments Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made earlier this morning.

Trump spoke from a presidential lectern with a posted tacked to the front that outlined the numbers behind the Mueller report.

11:53 a.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Trump's meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer lasted just 5 minutes

From CNN's Phil Mattingly and Manu Raju

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's meeting with President Trump about infrastructure lasted only five minutes, a source a direct knowledge told CNN.

Right as they walked in, Trump brought up the "cover-up" comment Pelosi made earlier this morning. Then, Trump said there would be no negotiations until the investigations are over.

Pelosi told him she knew he wasn’t serious about infrastructure.

11:52 a.m. ET, May 22, 2019

Trump says he can't work with Democrats

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

President Trump says he told Democratic leaders at the White House on Wednesday he couldn't work with them while they were pursuing investigations into him and his administration.

"I’ve said from the beginning — right from the beginning — you probably can’t go down two tracks. You can go down the investigation track or you can go down the investment track," Trump said in last-minute remarks in the Rose Garden.

Trump was supposed to have a meeting with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this morning on infrastructure. That meeting lasted just a few minutes: During it, Trump told them he couldn't work with them until their investigations are over.

"I walked into the room and I told Sen. Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure," he said. "But you can’t do it under these circumstances."

He said he message to the lawmakers was "get these phony investigations over with."