Insults Fly as Trump-Pelosi Feud Escalates
U.S. President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are trading insults in an escalating feud that follows questions about whether he should face impeachment over past and current dealings.
Pelosi said Thursday that Trump wants opposition Democratic lawmakers to impeach him, but that the case has yet to be made to start a formal impeachment inquiry.
She said that several ongoing investigations being conducted by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives "may take us to impeachment," but that currently "we are not at that place." Three dozen Democrats and a single Republican in the 435-member House have called for the start of impeachment proceedings, although even if the House were to impeach Trump, the Republican-controlled Senate is highly unlikely to remove him from office.
Pelosi said, however, impeachment is "what he wants us to do."
She said Democrats will "follow the facts" in collecting information about Trump's financial dealings, his 28-month presidency and the aftermath of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian intrusion in the 2016 U.S. presidential and whether Trump tried to obstruct it.
Pelosi said she wishes Trump well, but that she thinks administration officials and his family need to have an "intervention" with him for the good of the country.
Trump responded by calling Pelosi "crazy Nancy" at a Thursday afternoon news conference at the White House.
As for himself, Trump declared, "I'm an extremely stable genius.''
Pelosi later tweeted, "When the 'extremely stable genius' starts acting more presidential, I'll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues."
The president also tweeted a Fox News video of Pelosi at her weekly meeting with reporters that had been edited to highlight stutters and mispronunciations. The video included the caption, "PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE," in all caps.
The White House attack on Pelosi escalated later in the day when Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, tweeted another doctored video of Pelosi. The footage had been slowed down in a manner that made Pelosi appear intoxicated and her speech impaired.
Pelosi's assessment of any move toward impeaching Trump came hours after the U.S. leader unleashed new attacks on congressional Democrats investigating him, contending they are "the do-nothing party!"
"All they are geared up to do, six committees, is squander time, day after day, trying to find anything which will be bad for me," Trump said on Twitter a day after he abruptly walked out of a White House meeting with Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer about infrastructure spending. Trump, incensed by Pelosi's contention that he was "engaged in a cover-up," which she repeated Thursday, said he would not talk about policy issues with Democratic leaders as long as they continue their investigations.
"A pure fishing expedition like this never happened before, & it should never happen again!" Trump claimed, although Republican lawmakers in recent times often investigated Democrat Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state Trump defeated in the 2016 election.
There was no indication that Democratic lawmakers would back off their investigations of Trump's finances related to his global business empire and the Mueller report. Mueller concluded that Trump had not colluded with Russia to help him win, but reached no decision on whether he obstructed justice. Subsequently, Attorney General William Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided obstruction charges against Trump were not warranted.
Pelosi and Schumer both described Trump's walkout as a "temper tantrum." Schumer told MSNBC that he believes it occurred because Trump and his aides "were so ill-prepared and afraid to actually say how they pay for infrastructure — they were unable — that they looked for a way to back out."
On Thursday, Trump tweeted:
After walking out of the meeting Wednesday, Trump told reporters in the White House Rose Garden, "I don't do cover-ups."
He said investigations of him and engaging in government policy negotiations could not be conducted simultaneously.
Business, financial records
Trump continues to spar with congressional Democrats over access to his business and financial records from the years prior to his presidency when he was widely known as a New York real estate mogul.
Twice this week, federal judges have upheld congressional subpoenas for his records, at an accounting firm that handled some of his financial transactions and from Deutsche Bank, his primary lender for two decades, and Capital One Bank, where he keeps some of his money.
Meanwhile, the New York state legislature approved a measure that would authorize state tax officials to release his state tax returns to any of three congressional committees in Washington. Trump has appealed the ruling related to the accounting firm and is likely to appeal the bank information decision, as well.
Trump, unlike U.S. presidents for the past four decades, has declined to release his federal tax returns, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused a congressional request for the last six years of Trump's returns.
With one exception, Trump has held Democrats at bay, for the moment, in their pursuit of information and public oversight.
Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday his panel has won an agreement from the Justice Department to turn over 12 categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence information that had been collected as part of Mueller's investigation.
The House Intelligence panel had subpoenaed the information, and Schiff said the subpoena "will remain in effect, and be enforced" if Justice fails "to comply with the full document request."