President Trump denounces Democratic investigations in Rose Garden: "I don't do cover-ups"

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi earlier claimed that Democrats believe the president is "engaged in a cover-up"

Published May 22, 2019 12:45PM (EDT)

President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 22, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Getty/Jim Watson)
President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 22, 2019, in Washington, DC. (Getty/Jim Watson)

Amid heightening calls from Democrats to open impeachment proceedings against him, President Donald Trump on Wednesday railed against special counsel Robert Mueller's probe and Democratic investigations of his administration.

"This whole thing was a take-down attempt of the president of the United States," Trump alleged during an impromptu appearance in the White House Rose Garden, in which he blasted Democrats for continuing to investigate him and slammed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's earlier assertion that she believes he is "engaged in a cover-up."

"I don't do cover-ups," the president claimed.

Trump spoke at a presidential lectern with an attached chart — "NO Collusion," "NO Obstruction" it read — blasting the multi-million dollar price tag of the special counsel's investigation. The poster claimed that the nearly-two year investigation had cost $35 million, although the Department of Justice has said it cost roughly $25 million.

Trump also said that he could not continue to work with Democrats in Congress while they are investigating him and his administration.

"I've said from the beginning — right from the beginning — you probably can't go down two tracks," he said. "You can go down the investigation track, or you can go down the investment track."

Earlier Wednesday, Trump lashed out at Democrats for refusing to accept his mantra of "NO COLLUSION."

"The Democrats are getting ZERO work done in Congress. All they are focused on is trying to prove the Mueller Report wrong, the Witch Hunt!" Trump wrote in a series of early morning tweets.

Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., held a press conference after Trump spoke in the Rose Garden. The pair were reportedly scheduled to meet with Trump to talk about infrastructure, although that meeting lasted just five minutes after the president said he said not work with Democrats amid the ongoing investigations.

"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."

Schumer noted that although Trump told Democrats on Wednesday that he could not work with them amid the ongoing investigations, he had been working with the party for weeks before — as multiple investigations were pending.

"But now that he was forced to actually say how he would pay for it, he had to run away," Schumer said, adding, "We are interested in doing infrastructure — it's clear the president isn't."

Trump and the Democratic leaders' comments represent yet another escalation of the tensions between House Democrats and the White House over investigations on issues including foreign election interference, alleged mismanagement in the White House security clearance proceduresthe president's finances and his immigration policies.

Since the Democrats seized control of the House of Representatives in January, current and former Trump administration officials have faced a barrage of subpoenas, demands to testify before a host of congressional panels and letters seeking a flurry of documents. But the White House has often ignored congressional requests for documents and witnesses, claiming the demands are an unconstitutional infringement on the president's powers. Democrats, meanwhile, have accused the Trump administration of stonewalling or flat-out ignoring their requests for documents and information.

The executive branch's attempts to push back against congressional inquiries targeting the White House have led a growing number of Democrats to contemplate new ways to compel current and former West Wing aides to acquiesce to their demands, including heightening calls to open impeachment proceedings against the president. Some Democrats have even proposed personally fining or jailing administration officials who do not comply with their requests.

By Shira Tarlo

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