WASHINGTON – Democratic leaders in Congress on Wednesday angrily walked out of a White House meeting with President Donald Trump after he had a “meltdown,” according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown. Sad to say,”Pelosi told reporters outside the White Housewith House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The Democratic leaders said that the moment that prompted them to abruptly leave was when Trump called Pelosi “a third-rate politician” to her face.
“He was insulting, particularly to the speaker,” Schumer said. “She kept her cool completely. But he called her a third-rate politician. He said that there are communists involved and you guys might like that. I mean, this was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe – a nasty diatribe not focused on the facts, especially the fact of how to curtail ISIS, a terrorist organization that aims to hurt the United States in our homeland. “
The White House called the meeting to discuss thepresident’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, which paved the way forTurkey to invade the area.Ahead of the meeting,the House overwhelmingly votedin favor of a resolution rebuking the Trump’s decision to pull troops out in a 354 – 60 vote.
“I think that vote, the size of the vote – more than 2 to 1 of the Republicans voted to oppose what the president did – it probably got to the president, because he was shaken up by it, “Pelosi said. “That’s why we couldn’t continue in the meeting because he was just not relating to the reality of it.”
Hoyer echoed those remarks, saying that the meeting “deteriorated into a diatribe” and that they were “deeply offended” by the way Trump treated Pelosi. He said that after serving in Congress over the course of six presidential administrations, he has “never” seen a president “treat so disrespectfully a co-equal branch of the government.”
“He was in a knot, tied in a knot the minute we got into the room, ”Schumer told reporters later on Wednesday. “I said, don’t insult us, don’t insult us we’re here to talk substance, but they had no substance.”
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham denied the Democrat’s characterization of the meeting, saying, “The President was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising. She had no intention of listening or contributing to an important meeting on national security issues. While Democratic leadership chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine, everyone else in the meeting chose to stay in the room and work on behalf of this country. “
Republicans, who stayed behind Min in the meeting, spoke to reporters afterward. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said that Pelosi stormed out of the room, calling it “unbecoming” of the speaker.
“When there is a time of crisis, leaders should stay “whether they like what they’re hearing or not, he added.
During the meeting, Schumer said that he asked Trump about his plan to contain the Islamic State militant group.
“He didn’t really have one, he said the Turks and the Syrians will guard the ISIS prisoners,” Schumer said, recounting the conversation.
Schumer said he then asked if there was any intelligence evidence that suggested the Turks and the Syrians have the same interests as the US and the Kurds in guarding those prisoners. ark Esper was in the room and Schumer said Esper was “honest,” saying, according to Schumer, “We don’t have that evidence.”
The dramatic meeting comes amid theHouse’s ongoing impeachment inquiry. Democrats on Wednesday said that impeachment did not come up during their conversation with the president.
The episode was reminiscent ofthe White House meeting Trump held with congressional leaders in May on the nation’s infrastructure, during which Pelosi said that Trump threw a “temper tantrum” and “stormed out” of the room. Trump said at the time that he would only work with Democrats if they stopped investigating him.
Hallie Jackson and Peter Alexander