(NBC News) – President Donald Trump delivered an extensive denunciation of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation during a highly unusual appearance in the White House Rose Garden Wednesday, announcing that he would not work with congressional Democrats as long as they persist in investigating him.
“This whole thing was a take-down attempt of the president of the United States,” Trump said, slamming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comment earlier that he was “engaged in a cover-up.”
“I don’t do cover-ups,” the president said.
Trump spoke at a lectern with a sign in front of it that read “no collusion,” “no obstruction” and cited a $35 million cost of Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference and Trump. The probe cost roughly $25 million, according to the Department of Justice.
Just before he appeared in the Rose Garden, the president had stormed out of an infrastructure meeting with Democratic leaders, including Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democratic sources with knowledge of the meeting said.
“I knew the president was not serious about infrastructure and would find a way out,” Pelosi quipped as the president stormed out, according to a Democratic aide.
Two Democratic sources with knowledge of the meeting told NBC News that Trump arrived late and expressed dismay at Pelosi’s “cover-up” comments, calling the remarks inconsiderate. Trump then said, according to the sources, Democrats would need to complete their various investigations before a deal on infrastructure or any other topic would be considered.
Trump said he had intended to sit down with Democratic leaders to discuss the $2 trillion infrastructure plan they had agreed to pursue last month, but that he cut the meeting short.
“I walked into the room and I told Senator Schumer and House Speaker Pelosi, ‘I want to do infrastructure, I want to do more than you want to do it,'” Trump said. “‘But, you know what? You can’t do it under these conditions.'”
Back on Capitol Hill, Pelosi, flanked by Schumer and other top Democrats in Congress, said Democrats had gone to the White House in the “spirit of bipartisanship to find common ground with the president,” but that his behavior was not “really respectful.”
“For some reason, maybe it was lack of confidence on his part, he couldn’t match the greatness of the challenge,” she said during an impromptu news conference.
“I pray for the president of the United States and I pray for the United States of America,” she added.
“To watch what happened at the White House would make your jaw drop,” Schumer told reporters.
“It’s clear this was not a spontaneous move on the president’s part,” he said, pointing out that immediately after Trump left the meeting with Democrats, he went out to the Rose Garden that had signs prepared.
During his news conference, Trump said that he respects Congress, but that Democrats are abusing its oversight power.
“I respect the courts, I respect Congress, but what they’ve done is abuse,” Trump said.