Trump to Democrats: Investigate Me or Govern

The Toddler-in-Chief has issued an ultimatum.

President Trump has emerged from a meeting with the Democratic leadership with a defiant message:

President Donald Trump said in impromptu remarks Wednesday that he told Democrats at the White House he couldn’t work with them while they were pursuing investigations into him and his administration.

The Rose Garden speech came after an abbreviated meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who were there to discuss a bipartisan infrastructure spending package.

“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.

He said during the meeting with Democrats that 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.”

Earlier Wednesday, Pelosi had told reporters Trump was engaged in a “cover-up.”

Trump said: “Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk into, look at people that have just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don’t do cover-ups.”

-CNN “Trump says he refuses to work with Democrats until investigations halt

Of course he does cover-ups. He just doesn’t do them well.

Beyond that, the notion that the governing of a superpower must grind to a halt whenever the President is embroiled in a scandal is ludicrous. Congress has conducted one or more serious investigations of every President in my lifetime. We managed to pass legislation even while Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were under investigations that led to their resignation and impeachment.

Dan Drezner has curated an epic Twitter thread, 744 long as of this morning, chronicling how Trump’s staff and other allies are treating him like a toddler. It gained so much popularity that he’s turned the series into a forthcoming book for the University of Chicago Press, an early draft of which I’ve had the privilege of reading and commenting on. This incident will surely make it in if it hasn’t already gone in for final edits.

For Trump, everything is personal. There is no nation that must be governed. The Presidency is a toy and mean old Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer aren’t letting him play by his rules. So the Toddler-in-Chief is throwing a temper tantrum.

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. reid says:

    I’m afraid this won’t end well. He’s losing his mind and seems capable of anything as the walls close in.

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  2. JohnMcC says:

    @reid: “I’m afraid this won’t end well.” I really really appreciate a gift for understatement.

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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Pelosi is playing this like a Stradivarius…

    “He just took a pass,” Pelosi told reporters, surmising Trump left the room because of “a lack of confidence on his part.” “I pray for the president of the United States and I pray for the United States of America,” she added.

    Schumer…

    “It’s clear this was not a spontaneous move on the president’s part; it was planned,” Schumer said of Trump’s dismissal of infrastructure talk. “When we got in the room, the curtains were closed, there was a place for him to stand to say why he wouldn’t do infrastructure, then he went to the press with pre-made signs.”

    It makes me laugh that people like JKB and Guarneri and Pearce are so hypnotized by this fat orange pussy.

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  4. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    It makes me laugh that people … are so hypnotized by this fat orange pussy.

    Garfield was popular for decades, which always baffled me. He wasn’t funny, he just loved lasagna and hated Mondays.

    (The scene in Bojack Horseman, where we learn that Andrew Garfield loves lasagna and hates Mondays was kind of inspired though)

  5. Teve says:

    @Gustopher:

    Garfield was popular for decades, which always baffled me

    When I was a little kid, there were ~20 cartoons in the paper, and exactly 2 funny ones, Bloom County and The Far Side*. I never understood how anybody could read Beetle Bailey, or Mary Worth, or Marmaduke, or Blondie etc. When I later found out that Garfield was conceived from the beginning to be a Marketable Product, it made sense.

    *(Early 80’s, Calvin wasn’t around yet)

  6. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The Art of the Squeal
    To recap: The POTUS is refusing to serve the American people unless House Democrats abdicate their Constitutional Oversight Duties.
    Seems kind of extortion-y, doesn’t it?

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  7. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Trump keeps finding new facets of his Obstruction of Justice rubik’s cube.

  8. Teve says:

    The subtle and multilayered headline at Wonkette about the Trump presser is What The Fuck Was That?

  9. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    From above:

    Trump said: “Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk into, look at people that have just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don’t do cover-ups.”

    How does Individual-1 explain the $130,000 to Stormy Daniels that he lied about, repeatedly???

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  10. Moosebreath says:

    I am trying to think why Trump believes that Pelosi needs to give this a second of thought. If they go the infrastructure route, Trump gets off the hook for his conduct, plus possibly* gets something to brag about for his reelection campaign, while Democrats look like they surrendered their oversight role and at best agreed to an infrastructure deal they won’t get credit for.

    * I say possibly both because I strongly suspect Trump and the Democrats have very different ideas about what they want out of an infrastructure bill, and because Trump seems to be an all-time bad negotiator if the other side has the ability to walk away — the difference between Trump’s mental picture of himself and reality is staggering.

  11. Kathy says:

    @Gustopher:

    Garfield was popular for decades, which always baffled me.

    I liked the animated version. it had a few good one-liners from time to time.

    Back on topic, has Dennison declared the Oval office to be vacant? If so, shouldn’t the cabinet move into 25th Amendment mode and rectify the situation ASAP?

  12. Pete S says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: That line about “I don’t do cover-ups” is as close to the truth as Trump gets. None of his escapades stay covered up. At best he does half-assed distractions.

  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    From above:

    Trump said: “Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk into, look at people that have just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don’t do cover-ups.”

    Well, how do you explain that weak-ass comb-over, then? If that ain’t a cover-up I don’t know what is…

  14. Joe says:

    Along with the widely described and implemented strategy to respond to no subpoena or investigation, I think Trump has drawn his clear line in the sand – he will not carry out a primary element of his Constitutional duty – to govern – unless Congress gives up a primary element of their Constitutional duty – to conduct oversight.

    It’s pretty simple. Congressional Republicans have a front row seat to see who blinks, and that’s about all they’re up for.

  15. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: have you seen that artistic representation of what he would look like without the comb over and the fake tan? It’s not pretty.

  16. MarkedMan says:

    James, I think you are missing the point. 3 weeks ago Trump walked into a meeting with Chuck and Nancy and got carried away and promised a $2 trillion infrastructure bill. C&N has come in with $1T and didn’t e peat to get that. If you remember they walked out and said “we look forward to meeting with the President in a few weeks so he can discuss his plan for funding this”. Then Mitch and the boys made it clear they weren’t even going to discuss it. So if that meeting had come off Trump would have been shown as the loser and fool he is. Instead he says this outrageous thing and everyone gets distracted by it.

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  17. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Teve:
    Noooooooooo…….

  18. MarkedMan says:

    @Joe:

    Congressional Republicans have a front row seat

    I think your analogy breaks down here. The Republicans aren’t spectators in this. Rather they are supposed to be playing for one side (upholding the law and protecting Congressional institutions) but have left the field and serving as cheerleaders for the opposition.

  19. michael reynolds says:

    While under investigation for Watergate, Nixon arranged the opening to China. But Nixon was just a POS, he wasn’t a stupid, incompetent POS.

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  20. Scott F. says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I am trying to think why Trump believes that Pelosi needs to give this a second of thought.

    I think Schumer and @MarkedMan have it right in this case. Trump may want to do a big infrastructure bill to brandish his resume and get off the hook a bit, but the Republicans have no intention of doing what would need to be done to pay for it (repeal some of his tax cut, raise other taxes, cut GOP sacred budget line items…) Now he wants to be able to say, I’d make this happen if only…blah, blah, blah… the Democratics suck. And the only price the Republicans have to pay is yet another indication that Trump is unfit for office.

    Mitch is sitting in his Senate office laughing his ass off.

  21. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    have you seen that artistic representation of what he would look like without the comb over and the fake tan? It’s not pretty.

    Like the current representation trump himself wears is?

    Back on topic, here’s some good advice for Mr. Dennison:

    If you want the investigations to stop, then stop breaking the law, asshole!

    Ok. I stole that from Jim Carrey in “Liar, liar”

  22. Pylon says:

    What “impromptu remarks” have pre-printed placards at the podium?

    BTW, the amount of the Mueller investigation’s cost? Dwarfed by Trump’s golf holidays.

  23. grumpy realist says:

    Judge says to Deutsche Bank: hand Trump’s files over.

    I expect a lot of rage-tweeting tomorrow.

  24. Teve says:

    @Kathy: one of the great scenes in cinema history.

  25. Pylon says:

    “Donald Trump said in impromptu remarks”

    Impromptu remarks for which he just happened to have printed signs.

  26. Moosebreath says:

    @Scott F.:

    What makes you think Trump ever intended to pay for it? The budget busting tax cut? The removal of the spending caps?

    For that matter, why do you think the party of Deficits Don’t Matter* would have cared about paying for it?

    * (when Republicans are in charge)

  27. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Why does Garfield hate Mondays anyways? He’s a housecat. It’s not like he has to get up early to go to work.

  28. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Calvin and Bloom County were great. WAPO has a huge list of comics on Sunday. Online I read Dilbert (I know, but he has a system that sometimes turns up good stuff), Doonesbury, Zits, and Mutts. Nothing else interesting.

    Borgman, the guy who draws Zits, was a Pulitzer winning editorial cartoonist for the Cincinnati Enquirer. They laid him off. Stop me if you’ve heard a story like this before.

  29. michael reynolds says:

    @gVOR08:
    I was hanging around University of Texas back when Berke Breathed was drawing cartoons for the campus newspaper. The general consensus was, “Um, this guy’s too good to be working for a student paper, isn’t he?” Turned out he was.

  30. Kathy says:

    It’s too bad for Dennison he can’t package and sell his Trademark Trump Tantrums. I bet his deplorables would love to save them for posterity.

  31. Scott F. says:

    @Moosebreath: I think you may be missing my point.

    I’m saying precisely Trump had no intention to pay for infrastructure and I’d surmise he hasn’t even thought about the difficulties in funding work of such scale. I’m also saying the Republicans are grateful today that the talk will be all about POTUS’s temper tantrum and not about the GOP’s unwillingness to pay for infrastructure sorely needed in this country as understood by both ends of the US political spectrum.

    All this was set in motion three weeks ago when POTUS, Schumer, and Pelosi agreed in principle to a big infrastructure bill pending Trump coming back today with his (and his party’s) plan to finance said bill. The story today could have been Trump can’t control his party enough to get them to support much needed investment in roads, bridges, internet, and electrical grid – investment that could lead to hundreds of new jobs. Instead, the story today will be Trump as Toddler-In-Chief with perhaps a side order of “he must be really nervous about something.”

    This is a net win for Republicans, don’t you think? Trump is already held in the lowest esteem possible by anyone not firmly planted in his base. That Trump is unfit, and likely a criminal, is a “dog bites man” story at this point. OTOH, there’s much more to be told about how the feckless Republicans are punting every meaningful challenge facing this country down the road so they can shower the 1% in tax cuts and install ultra-right judges.

    I realize this tune is getting old, but Trump isn’t the problem. The Republicans are.

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  32. Moosebreath says:

    @Scott F.:

    I think we are talking past each other.

    I think the Republicans would rather have Trump reelected than not, and passing an infrastructure bill would have helped in that cause. I also think Republicans would not have objected too strongly to getting it passed if they did not have to pay (now) for it, but instead just increased the deficit. It would give them more of a reason to holler that we need to reduce the deficit once a Democrat was in office.

    So if Trump did not melt down, the headlines would have been favorable for them.

  33. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: I found one version at The Improper. That’s nowhere near as bad as it could be. In many ways it almost (and I say almost) humanizes him some.

    ETA: @Reynolds: Yeah, stupid AND incompetent makes all the difference.

  34. rachel says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Really! He stays home all day every day, eating, sleeping and relieving himself in a box of sand (hopefully).

    Why TF should Monday be singled out for his hatred?

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @gVOR08: Breaking Cat News is clever most of the time, but on other days, it’s like the Mutts strips that plug animal adoption.

  36. The abyss that is the soul of cracker says:

    @Kathy: He can’t compile them into books and sell them? I mean, I realize that such an idea is probably beyond his ken (or his Barbie for that matter), but I didn’t realize Twitter was that grabby and possessive.

  37. Scott F. says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Yes, we are talking past each other, but otherwise mostly in agreement.

    So I agree that the Republicans would rather have Trump re-elected, but I’ll just say that I don’t think Trump’s re-election is either helped or hurt by whether he gets something done with the Democrats. That Trump is not bipartisan is baked in. His base loves him because he hates the people they hate and any independents who might still give him votes would do so based on the general state of the economy and not on policy achievements.

    And I agree that Republicans don’t care about deficits except when they can be used as an excuse to thwart the Democratic agenda. I just think they want to say they want a infrastructure bill without even hinting at what trade-offs would be needed to actually get one today or in the future. Republicans are loath to show their math since it never adds up. Better to blame the Democrats for being mean.

  38. Tom says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Garfield loves John and is angry the weekend is over.

  39. gVOR08 says:

    Maddow had fun last night working through the long list of legislation negotiated, passed, and signed while Nixon and Clinton were under investigation.

    Ever since Trump shot off his mouth about a two trillion dollar infrastructure plan and McConnell explained to him the Republican facts of life, I’ve been wondering how he’d back out of it. Actually kind of clever. More clever if he’d left out the little tells like the graphics and handouts and invitations for his impromptu press conference.

  40. Moosebreath says:

    @Scott F.:

    “I’ll just say that I don’t think Trump’s re-election is either helped or hurt by whether he gets something done with the Democrats. That Trump is not bipartisan is baked in. His base loves him because he hates the people they hate and any independents who might still give him votes would do so based on the general state of the economy and not on policy achievements.”

    I will disagree on this point. From an independent’s point of view, Trump’s sole accomplishment to date is passing the very unpopular tax cut for the wealthy. Passing something else would be good for him.

  41. gVOR08 says:

    Ryan and McConnell passed the tax bill. Aside from signing it, I don’t recall Trump really having much to do with it.

  42. Moosebreath says:

    @gVOR08:

    You and I know that, but do low information independent voters?

  43. grumpy realist says:
  44. Jax says:

    @grumpy realist: Who are the guys in the cowboy hats?! (Watch, it will be some of the Covington Catholic kids) My spidey-cow sense tells me they’ve never been within 20 feet of a cow. Maybe at the NFR when they posted selfies in the first 5 rows or so. 😉

    Ahhhh. “Authenticity” props. For the Reality TV President™ . “Break out the good hat, boys, The President needs us!”

  45. @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    “It’s clear this was not a spontaneous move on the president’s part; it was planned,” Schumer said of Trump’s dismissal of infrastructure talk. “When we got in the room, the curtains were closed, there was a place for him to stand to say why he wouldn’t do infrastructure, then he went to the press with pre-made signs.”

    This makes me laugh. Does anyone remember him putting “Trump steaks” out at Mar a Lago a few years ago pretending like they were a current thing?