After three minutes, angry Trump stomps out of meeting with Dems

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., right, and other congressional leaders, react to a failed meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on infrastructure, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The curtains in the Cabinet Room were drawn. The Democrats were waiting. President Donald Trump came and went in all of three minutes.

Round 2 of the president’s consultations with congressional Democrats on infrastructure went bust in a flash.

Prospects for passing a large infrastructure bill evaporated Wednesday as Trump announced that he won’t work with Democratic lawmakers on policy while they continue to investigate him.

Trump took umbrage at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s accusation earlier in the day of him being “engaged in a cover-up.”

He met briefly with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats before exiting to address reporters in the Rose Garden.

His message: Only after the Democrats’ investigations end will he work with them on infrastructure, lowering drug prices and other matters.

President Donald Trump delivers a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House, Wednesday, May 22, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Speaking at the Capitol, Pelosi and Schumer suggested that Trump was looking for excuses not to take up infrastructure.

“He just took a pass,” Pelosi said. “And it just makes me wonder why he did that. In any event, I pray for the president of the United States and I pray for the United States of America.”

The meeting was supposed to be a follow-up from three weeks ago, when Trump and Democratic congressional leaders agreed to work together on a $2 trillion infrastructure package to invest in roads, bridges and broadband.

Schumer said that congressional committees had been undertaking investigations during that first meeting as well.

“And he still met with us. But now that he was forced to actually say how he was going to pay for it, he had to run away,” Schumer said.

There were obvious signs of trouble going into the meeting, with both sides being guarded about how they would pay for such an investment. The White House released a letter Tuesday night that Trump wrote Pelosi and Schumer letting them know his preference for Congress taking up the proposed U.S. trade deal with Mexico and Canada first.

“Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,” Trump said.

Congressional committees have begun holding hearings on the nation’s infrastructure needs. It’s one of the few issues that lawmakers from both parties have said they would like to address.

Business and trade groups have been meeting with White House officials to emphasize the importance of shoring up the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road improvements and transit systems. Federal fuel taxes supply most of the money that goes into the trust fund, but the purchasing power of the gas tax has declined as vehicles have become more fuel efficient.

Some 30 states have enacted fuel tax increases to raise money for local roads and bridges over the past six years, but Congress has not approved a fuel tax increase since 1993. It now stands at 18.3 cents a gallon for gasoline and 24.3 cents a gallon for diesel.

The advocacy groups are trying to make the case that state politicians supportive of gas tax increases have not been punished at the ballot box.

But Republican leaders in Congress have shown little enthusiasm for the price tag of the infrastructure plan, and even less for the idea of raising the federal fuel tax to help pay for upgrading the nation’s infrastructure. Trump himself has suggested that Democrats are somehow setting a trap to get him to go along with a tax increase.

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AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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Reach Kevin Freking on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/APkfreking .

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Infighting stalls needed disaster aid

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of N.Y., center, steps away from a podium following a Senate policy luncheon on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Six months after hurricanes devastated the Southeast, Washington infighting has shelved a widely backed disaster aid package that President Donald Trump’s allies in Florida and Georgia are desperately seeking.

Trump’s opposition to aid to Puerto Rico — slammed by back-to-back hurricanes in 2017 — has sparked a standoff with Democrats demanding more aid for the island U.S. territory. Trump is feuding with the island’s Democratic officials and railed against aid to Puerto Rico at a closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans last month.

Senate Republicans have stuck with the president so far, refusing to add more funding to help Puerto Rico rebuild its water systems or help its impoverished government with more generous disaster aid terms. Democrats in turn filibustered a $14 billion aid package over the issue last week, and the measure has languished since.

“Typically, when these kinds of things happen we figure out how to help as much as possible and do it on an overwhelming bipartisan basis and that’s what needs to be done now,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters on Thursday. “I think we’ll get there but it’s been a little too political in my opinion.”

Now, both House and Senate are heading off for a two-week Easter recess, leaving struggling cotton farmers in the South in limbo at a crucial time for spring planting and failing to ease food stamp cuts in Puerto Rico. The funding would also help Alaska recover from a powerful earthquake last November, fund rebuilding efforts in fire-ravaged communities in California, and start rebuilding hurricane-damaged military bases in Florida and North Carolina. Timber interests in Florida would be helped, as would pecan, peach, and blueberry farmers in Georgia.

“It’s an absolute travesty that this chamber is recessing without a compromise on much-needed funding for disaster relief,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “From the start, Democrats have supported an all-of-the-above approach, help every part of America that’s struggling from natural disasters. We need to help everyone hurt last year, everyone hurt this year, everyone hurt in Puerto Rico, everyone hurt in the middle West, everyone hurt in Florida.”

North Carolina Republican Thom Tillis shot back that “Chuck Schumer needs to stop the partisan political posturing so we can reach a deal. North Carolinians have already waited long enough for the federal resources they need to recover and rebuild.”

The cross-party finger pointing has been predictable, but Republicans are also upset with the White House.

“Never before have we seen American communities that were wrecked with catastrophes neglected like this,” said Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., usually a Trump loyalist, in a floor speech this week. “To this day, OMB has not even submitted a request for disaster assistance, calls to White House staff have gone unheeded, and but for one tweet on April 1, it seems the president has moved on.”

Frustration is also bubbling in the Senate, where Trump allies such as David Perdue of Georgia and Rick Scott of Florida — a state that’s crucial to Trump’s re-election — are pressuring the president to deal. Scott visited with Trump Thursday at the White House, along with Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

“We’re going to discuss where we are and where we think we might be able to go,” Shelby said, telling reporters he was hoping to be able to make Democrats another offer afterward. Scott said he had a “good meeting” and said he would keep pushing for a deal.

“I’m working with Republicans and Democrats to get this done,” he said. “The people of Florida and Puerto Rico can’t wait any longer.”

Disaster aid bills have traditionally been nonpartisan, but hard feelings still linger from the 2012-2013 Superstorm Sandy experience, in which most Republicans voted against a huge aid package that went chiefly to Democratic New York and New Jersey. At the time Schumer was especially upset.

Schumer led last week’s move to block the Senate measure but Democrats haven’t faced much political heat for the maneuver, and Schumer appears confident that Republicans will have to yield and give more aid to Puerto Rico.

The House passed a $14 billion measure in January but the measure got tangled up during the partial government shutdown. Earlier this week, House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., unveiled a new bill with $3 billion more to respond to flooding in Midwestern states such as Iowa and Nebraska.

Trump has been slow to release already appropriated funding for Puerto Rico and critics say he has shown little urgency in helping the island. Trump attacked the island’s government at a recent meeting with Senate Republicans, telling them that Puerto Rico has gotten too much disaster help compared with states such as Texas.

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The idiocy that is Trump and his failed presidency

I don’t doubt that Trump planned to fire Jess Sessions some time after the election. Afer all the letter of resignation was not dated.

I watched the entire excruciating press conference today where emboldened reporters no longer showed respect and deference to the president and peppered Trump with questions. He either attacked the reporters for asking  questions he wanted to avoid answering or just simply ignored the question in his response.

You could see Trump getting more and more angry as his face contorted and he lashed back by insulting reporters.

Leading up to his press conference today Trump had to figure out a way to rationalize the loss of GOP control of the House of Representatives. In his speech before taking questions from reporters he presented his lame reasons why the Republicans really won the day in large part to Trump’s popularity. Without a modicum of shame for saying it he claimed it was because the winning Republicans embraced him.

When the time came for questions from reporters who had prepared provocative questions and treated him not as the emperor who could order them to the guillotine if they dared not bow down to him, but as a mere mortal who happens to be president and hardly deserved the respect that usually is given to the holder of that office.

My hunch is that he was so angry after the press conference that in a fit of narcissistic rage he decided to announce the so-called resignation in a Tweet not long after the press conference ended.

Narcissistic rage is a phenomenon which occurs when an extreme narcissist, one so extreme he meets the criteria for being called a malignant narcissist. In other words, when Donald Trump finds his grandiose sense of self, his megalomania, is being questioned or undercut, or worse that he may be in danger of losing his ability to control the narrative it triggers his rage.

I try to observe Trump’s behavior as objectively as possible through the lens of the psychotherapist I was for 40 years. I realize that I have a bias against him. Watching him perform in his press conference today only cements my opinion that he meets the criteria for a malignant narcissistic personality disorder who is prone to narcissistic rages.

Read more:

Psychologist Alexander Burgenmeester has a good article about malignant narcissism, but a simple Google search will find lots more information if you aren’t familiar with this disorder.

Rep. Manchin under fire on vote for Kavanaugh

Sen. Joe Manchin, center, speaks to John Heron and Connie Hill about his recent vote in the Senate to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, at an IHOP restaurant in Charleston, W.Va. (AP Photo/Tyler Evert)

Danielle Walker cried on Joe Manchin’s shoulder after she shared her story of sexual assault in the senator’s office. She thought he listened.

The 42-year-old Morgantown woman said she was both devastated and furious when Manchin became the only Democrat in the U.S. Senate to support President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

“I feel raped all over again,” Walker told The Associated Press.

A day after Manchin broke with his party on what may be the most consequential vote of the Trump era, the vulnerable Democrat is facing a political firestorm back home. While Republicans — including one of the president’s sons — are on the attack, the most passionate criticism is coming from Manchin’s very own Democratic base, a small but significant portion of the electorate he needs to turn out in force to win re-election next month. A Manchin loss would put his party’s hopes of regaining control of the Senate virtually out of reach.

Walker, a first-time Democratic candidate for the state legislature, said she may not vote at all in the state’s high-stakes Senate election. Julia Hamilton, a 30-year-old educator who serves on the executive committee of the Monongalia County Democratic Party, vowed to sit out the Senate race as well.

“At some point you have to draw a line,” Hamilton said. “I have heard from many, many people — especially women. They won’t be voting for Manchin either.”

Manchin defended his vote in a Sunday interview as being based on fact, not emotion. He praised the women who shared their stories of sexual trauma, Walker among them, but said he “could not find any type of link or connection” that Kavanaugh was a rapist.

The woman who testified to the Senate about Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford, accused him of sexual assault but not rape when they were high school students more than 30 years ago. Two other women stepped forward late in the confirmation process to accuse the appeals court judge of sexual misconduct in high school or college. Their stories resonated with women who had suffered sexual trauma and fueled opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

“They weren’t going to be satisfied, or their healing process, until we convicted this person,” Manchin told The Associated Press. “I couldn’t do it. You talk about two wrongs trying to make a right. It just wasn’t in my heart and soul to do that.”

Manchin insisted over and over that his vote wasn’t based on politics.

There is little doubt, however, that his vote was in line with the wishes of many West Virginia voters, who gave Trump a victory in 2016 by 42 percentage points. There simply aren’t enough Democrats in the state to re-elect Manchin. He needs a significant chunk of Trump’s base to win.

One West Virginia Trump supporter, 74-year-old Linda Ferguson, explained the politics bluntly as she watched the parade at Saturday’s Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins.

“If he didn’t vote for Kavanaugh he could have kissed his seat goodbye,” Ferguson said.

While he may have represented the majority of his state, Manchin’s political challenges are far from over.

The clash over Kavanaugh, who was confirmed by the Senate on Saturday, has injected new energy into each party’s political base. While that may help Democrats in their fight for the House majority, which is largely taking place in America’s suburbs, there are signs it’s hurting vulnerable Democrats in rural Republican-leaning states like North Dakota, Missouri and West Virginia. Phil Bredesen, who said he would have voted for Kavanaugh, could also face new challenges in his bid to flip Tennessee’s Senate seat to the Democratic column.

For much of the year, Manchin has held a significant lead in public and private polls over his Republican opponent, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. Yet Republican operatives familiar with the race report a definite tightening over the last week.

In an interview, Morrisey called Democrats’ fight against Kavanaugh a “three-ring circus” that “energized a lot of people in West Virginia.”

He acknowledged that Manchin voted the right way for the state, but called the vote “irrelevant” because another swing vote, Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, had already given Kavanaugh the final vote he needed.

“He waited until the last possible minute after Susan Collins declared for him to take a position, effectively allowing Maine to decide how West Virginia’s going to decide,” Morrisey charged. “We shouldn’t reward that kind of cowardice.”

Echoing the attack, Donald Trump Jr., mockingly called Manchin “a real profile in courage” on Twitter.

When asked about the social media jab, the West Virginia senator slapped away the insult from the younger Trump.

Donald Trump Jr. is “entitled to his opinion, he’s just not entitled to his own facts to justify what he’s saying. He doesn’t really know anything,” Manchin told the AP.

The Democrat conceded that he followed Collins’ lead out of “respect” — he didn’t want to get in the way of her high-profile Friday afternoon announcement on the Senate floor.

“Nothing would have changed my vote,” Manchin declared. “Susan took the lead, Susan did the due diligence. … She’s going to give her speech and I’m not going to jump in front of 3 o’clock. I’m just not going to do it.”

That wasn’t good enough for Tammy Means, a 57-year-old florist from Charleston, who was among thousands tailgating outside West Virginia University’s football stadium in Morgantown on Saturday.

Means, a registered Democrat who voted for Trump, said she also voted for Manchin in the past.

“I’m not going to anymore. Nope,” she said with a laugh as she sipped a Smirnoff Ice. She’s glad Manchin voted for Kavanaugh, but said, “He’s just doing it so he can get elected.”

Across the parking lot, 63-year-old John Vdovjac said he was deeply disappointed by Manchin’s vote. Still, the Democrat said he’d probably vote for Manchin this fall.

“I recognize the position he’s in because the state’s heavily Republican now,” said Vdovjac, a retired educator from Wheeling, as he helped grill hotdogs and hamburgers. “But he’s lost my loyalty.

Manchin knows he needs to explain his vote to his constituents, although he didn’t have any public events scheduled this weekend. Before and after the AP interview, conducted at Charleston’s International House of Pancakes, he told everyone who would listen — including his waitress — that his Kavanaugh vote was not based on emotion.

“I made my decision based on facts,” the senator told Kevin Estep, a 57-year-old registered Democrat and Trump voter who was eating buttered pancakes with his family.

“You hang in there and vote your heart,” Estep, who lives in nearby St. Albans, told the senator.

After Manchin left the building, Estep warned that the #MeToo movement “is like a dam that’s about to break open.”

Asked whether he’d support Manchin this fall, he responded, “Always.”

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