Nets Decry ‘Angry,’ ‘Fuming’ Trump, Hail Pelosi as ‘Master Strategist’

Rather than hold both sides of the aisle equally accountable for a breakdown in Wednesday talks about infrastructure legislation, on Thursday, the network morning shows decided instead to parrot Democratic talking points blaming President Trump for the “blow-up” while cheering House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for being a “master strategist.”

“The President storming out of a planned meeting with Democratic leaders after just three minutes, saying he will not work on issues like infrastructure until they call off their investigations,” co-host Amy Robach announced on ABC’s Good Morning America. In the report that followed, White House correspondent Cecilia Vega bemoaned: “Any hopes of bipartisan compromise on issues like infrastructure or prescription drug prices gone after President Trump vowed not to work with Democrats until they end the investigations into his presidency.”

 

 

After referring to the President’s White House press conference following the meeting as a “Rose Garden outburst,” Vega touted: “Sources tell ABC News the president spent all of three minutes talking to Democrats, he refused to sit down or shake hands, and he left before any Democrats spoke.” She failed to mention that those “sources” were all Democrats.

Turning back to the press conference, Vega derided:

The President was so angry that he called this hastily-arranged event out there in the Rose Garden....Sources tell us that aides tried to stop the President from going out there to vent before the cameras, George. They tried, they were not successful.

Following the report from Vega, co-host George Stephanopoulos turned to congressional correspondent Mary Bruce, who heaped praise on Speaker Pelosi:

Pelosi knows how to play this game. She’s a master strategist and this language was intentional. In fact, we are told that accusing the President of a cover-up was on the Democratic talking points that was handed out yesterday morning. Look, Pelosi is likely trying to ramp up her attacks on the President to please those members who are pushing for impeachment, but she also knows that the President is watching. And she knows that this kind of language is likely to get under his skin.

This fight, this President’s blow-up is politically convenient for Democrats. They’re trying to shift the conversation here and accuse the President of refusing to fulfill his promise to rebuild the nation’s crumbing infrastructure.

On NBC’s Today show, White House correspondent Peter Alexander complained: “This morning, the standoff is turning into a stalemate after President Trump threatened not to work with Democrats until they stop investigating him, abruptly ending a meeting with Democratic leaders.” The reporter added: “The President fuming after these explosive comments from Nancy Pelosi, accusing him of hiding information from Congress.”

Like Vega on ABC, Alexander hyped one-sided accounts of the meeting, though he at least acknowledged the partisanship of his sources:

Two Democratic sources with knowledge of the White House sit-down tell NBC News that contentious cabinet room meeting lasted just three minutes. After walking in, not shaking a single hand, not even sitting down, President Trump lashed out at the Democratic leaders before marching out. Democrats say they were stunned, and Pelosi, in a letter to House Democrats, called it a “temper tantrum.”

On CBS This Morning, correspondent Nancy Cordes similarly declared: “The President viewed his walkout as a power play. Speaker Pelosi called it a ‘temper tantrum.’” She further pushed the narrative by relating: “White House sources tell CBS News that President Trump, an avid cable news watcher, exploded after he saw Pelosi say this just before their meeting.” A clip ran of Pelosi accusing the President of a “cover-up.”

Cordes noted that “Both Pelosi and Mr. Trump see benefits to their tough talk,” but particularly emphasized the Democratic point of view as she wrapped up the report: “Democrats argue the real reason he walked out, Anthony, is because he knows that the issue they were discussing, infrastructure, is a tough one for him and he can’t sell that $2 trillion package, they say, to his own party.”

It would fair to say that both the President and congressional Democrats were to blame for the legislative impasse. However, the network news made a concerted effort to frame the coverage in the way Democrats wanted, laying the bulk of the blame on Trump and touting Pelosi as some brilliant political tactician.

Here is a full transcript of the May 23 report on ABC’s GMA:

7:11 AM ET

AMY ROBACH: To the White House now and the latest angry clash between President Trump and congressional Democrats. The President storming out of a planned meeting with Democratic leaders after just three minutes, saying he will not work on issues like infrastructure until they call off their investigations. Our senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega has all of those details. Good morning, Cecilia.

CECILIA VEGA: Hey, Amy, good morning to you. You know, the Democrats are not going to call off these investigations and this is now a standoff. Any bipartisan priorities this morning are on hold. So this – take a listen to this, this is where things stand. One Republican senator went public vending his frustration, saying he hopes the President and Democrats stop acting like 8-year-olds fighting in the back of a minivan.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: White House Standoff; Trump Storms Out of Meeting With Democratic Leaders]

This morning, Washington is at a standstill.

DONALD TRUMP: You can go down the investigation track and you can go down the investment track, or the track of let’s get things done for the American people.

VEGA: Any hopes of bipartisan compromise on issues like infrastructure or prescription drug prices gone after President Trump vowed not to work with Democrats until they end the investigations into his presidency.

TRUMP: Let them play their games. We’re going to go down one track at a time.

VEGA: The Rose Garden outburst followed a heated closed-door meeting between the President and top Democrats, a meeting cut short by President Trump because he was furious about an accusation made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just before her trip to the White House.

NANCY PELOSI: We believe that the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.

VEGA: Sources tell ABC News the president spent all of three minutes talking to Democrats, he refused to sit down or shake hands, and he left before any Democrats spoke.
TRUMP: Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk into look at people that had just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don’t do cover-ups.

VEGA: From Democrats, outrage.

CHUCK SCHUMER: To watch what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop.

PELOSI: I pray for the President of the United States and I pray for the United States of America.

VEGA: So this was really a remarkable scene here. The president was so angry that he called this hastily-arranged event out there in the Rose Garden. Aides were still bringing out gear while the press was being called in. So this really felt like it was called at the last minute in some ways. Sources tell us that aides tried to stop the President from going out there to vent before the cameras, George. They tried, they were not successful.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: They were not. Okay, Cecilia. Let’s get the view from Capitol Hill right now. Our senior congressional correspondent Mary Bruce is there. And Mary, Speaker Pelosi seemed to believe – she seemed to think this was going to happen before it happened, over the issue of infrastructure.

MARY BRUCE: Yeah, George, look, Pelosi knows how to play this game. She’s a master strategist and this language was intentional. In fact, we are told that accusing the President of a cover-as was on the Democratic talking points that was handed out yesterday morning. Look, Pelosi is likely trying to ramp up her attacks on the President to please those members who are pushing for impeachment, but she also knows that the President is watching. And she knows that this kind of language is likely to get under his skin.

This fight, this President’s blow up is politically convenient for Democrats. They’re trying to shift the conversation here and accuse the President of refusing to fulfill his promise to rebuild the nation’s crumbing infrastructure. But, George, they’re only going to be able to keep that spotlight off this impeachment fight for so long.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Right, because the Speaker had come straight from a meeting with House Democrats where she was tamping down that pressure for impeachment and calls from some in her own caucus not to cooperate on issues the President wants, like free trade, unless he cooperates on investigations.

BRUCE: Yeah, George, the Speaker is urging her members here to stay the course, but it’s hard to see how they’re going to get anything done here now up on the Hill. Democrats say they’re going to continue to try and fulfill their agenda. There are certain issues where they’re going to have to try and work with the President, like on the budget and raising the debt limit.

And when it comes to the issue of impeachment, Democrats are pointing to the fact that they’ve now had success in the courts. Just yesterday, the President rejected the President’s – a judge rejected the President’s effort to try and block his longtime lender Deutsche Bank from complying with a subpoena. George, this is exactly why Democrats say they need to stay the course. They feel that they have a better chance by following the facts.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yeah, second court case this week against the President. Okay, Mary Bruce, thanks very much.

Here is a full transcript of the report on NBC’s Today show:

7:11 AM ET

CRAIG MELVIN: For now let’s turn to that increasingly bitter battle between President Trump and congressional Democrats. Tension reaching new levels yesterday with the President storming out of a meeting with Democratic leaders and the two sides exchanging political threats over what’s next. NBC White House correspondent Peter Alexander has the very latest on that. Peter, good morning.

PETER ALEXANDER: Hey, Craig, good morning to you. When it comes to this relationship between the President and top Democrats, this really may be a new low. President Trump, of course, the author of the art of the deal, saying no deal with Democrats as long as they are investigating him. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a letter to her colleagues last night, wrote, “Sadly the only job the president seems to be concerned with is his own.”

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump’s Stalemate With Congress; Refuses to Work With Dems Over Investigations]

This morning, the standoff is turning into a stalemate after President Trump threatened not to work with Democrats until they stop investigating him, abruptly ending a meeting with Democratic leaders.

DONALD TRUMP: I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi I want to do infrastructure. But you know what? You can’t do it under these circumstances. So get these phony investigations over with.

ALEXANDER: The President fuming after these explosive comments from Nancy Pelosi, accusing him of hiding information from Congress.

NANCY PELOSI: We believe that the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.

TRUMP: I walk in to look at people that had just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don’t do cover-ups.

ALEXANDER: Two Democratic sources with knowledge of the White House sit-down tell NBC News that contentious cabinet room meeting lasted just three minutes. After walking in, not shaking a single hand, not even sitting down, President Trump lashed out at the Democratic leaders before marching out. Democrats say they were stunned, and Pelosi, in a letter to House Democrats, called it a “temper tantrum.”

CHUCK SCHUMER: To watch what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop.

PELOSI: I pray for the President of the United States.

TRUMP: Underscoring the bitterness after the President left, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asked Pelosi if she had a response to the President, according to multiple people in the room. According to a senior Trump administration official, Pelosi said that she would only respond to the President and wouldn’t discuss it with Conway. Conway replied sarcastically, “That’s very pro-woman of you.”

Democrats promise their investigations will go on.  

PELOSI: In plain sight, in the public domain, this president is obstructing justice and he's engaged in a coverup. And that could be an impeachable offense.

ALEXANDER: Republicans now challenging Democrats to make a decision.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY [R-LA]: They have the right to impeach a president. But they need to urinate or get off the pot.

ALEXANDER: For now, this showdown is threatening the possibility of bipartisan agreement on key issues like infrastructure and disaster aid. But there are also some must-do items, government spending and the debt limit, for example. Despite the President’s comments, multiple White House officials insist that those negotiations on the crucial items are ongoing. Craig and Willie, back to you.

MELVIN: Alright, Peter Alexander at the White House. Peter, thank you.

Here is a full transcript of the report on CBS This Morning:

7:13 AM ET

TONY DOKOUPIL: President Trump now says congressional Democrats had better stop investigating his presidency. He abruptly cut off a White House meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer yesterday. The President says he was upset that Pelosi accused him of a cover-up. Nancy Cordes is on Capitol Hill. Nancy, good morning.

NANCY CORDES: Good morning. You know, by the President’s own admission, it was that term “cover-up” that set him off and led to his ultimatum. Either Democrats drop their investigations of him or he won’t work with them, even on issues he cares about.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Presidential Power Play; POTUS Refuses to Work With Dems Until Investigations Dropped]

DONALD TRUMP: Get these phony investigations over with.

CORDES: The President viewed his walkout as a power play. Speaker Pelosi called it a “temper tantrum.”

NANCY PELOSI: I pray for the President of the United States and I pray for the United States of America.

CHUCK SCHUMER: To watch what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop.

CORDES: Their standoff put a stake in what was one of their few areas of common ground.

TRUMP: I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, I want to do infrastructure. You can’t do it under these circumstances.

CORDES: White House sources tell CBS News that President Trump, an avid cable news watcher, exploded after he saw Pelosi say this just before their meeting.

PELOSI: We believe that the President of the United States is engaged a cover-up.

CORDES: President Trump walked into the meeting with a dozen Democratic leaders and walked out again three minutes later.

TRUMP: I don’t do cover-ups.

CORDES: Slamming their investigations at a hastily-called Rose Garden press conference.

TRUMP: When I went to Wisconsin and Michigan and Pennsylvania, I didn’t say, “Oh, let’s call Russia, maybe they can” – it’s a hoax.

CORDES: Both Pelosi and Mr. Trump see benefits to their tough talk. Pelosi gets points with increasingly restless liberal members.

REP. MAXINE WATERS: I think he should be impeached.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [DEMOCRATIC MEMBER OF CONGRESS]: His campaign chairman is in prison, don’t tell me there’s not enough to debate here.

CORDES: And Mr. Trump’s aides say he feels punching back is a good re-election strategy.

TRUMP: The I-word. Can you imagine?

CORDES: President Trump is shooting back at Pelosi’s claim that he had a temper tantrum. On Twitter, he said that he was, quote, “Personally very polite and calm during the meeting.” Democrats argue the real reason he walked out, Anthony, is because he knows that the issue they were discussing, infrastructure, is a tough one for him and he can’t sell that $2 trillion package, they say, to his own party.

MASON: Alright, two very different impressions of that meeting. Nancy, thank you very much.

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