01:22 - Source: CNN
Trump: I don't do cover-ups
CNN —  

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to see President Donald Trump do a dramatic reading of some of his angrier tweets about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and congressional Democrats, wonder no longer! Because Trump did exactly that in a hastily-arranged press conference in the Rose Garden on Wednesday afternoon.

Standing at a podium decorated with a variety of facts and figures on the Mueller probe – and with the words “NO COLLUSION” and “NO OBSTRUCTION” featured prominently – Trump went off on Democrats (and the media) for, among other things, their alleged inability to accept the fact that he had done nothing wrong in regard to Russia or Mueller’s investigation into that country’s attempted interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Here’s the key bit:

“I came here to do a on infrastructure meeting with Democrats – not really thinking that they wanted to do infrastructure or anything else other than investigate. And I just saw that Nancy Pelosi, just before our meeting, made a statement that we believe that ‘the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.’ It turns out I’m the most – I think most of you would agree to this – I’m the most transparent president probably in the history of this country.”

Trump, according to CNN reporting, had marched into the planned meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on a potential infrastructure deal and informed them he couldn’t do any deals while Democrats were investigating him. End of meeting. The President had been set off by Pelosi saying Wednesday morning – following a meeting of the entire House Democratic caucus – that Trump had “engaged in a cover-up” as it related to Mueller’s Russia probe.

“I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump insisted in the Rose Garden shortly after the “meeting” with the two top Democrats in Congress. (Trump was, according to CNN’s Pamela Brown, incensed by Pelosi’s “cover-up” allegation.)

Trump’s claims are decidedly questionable.

While he regularly claims that Mueller found “NO OBSTRUCTION,” that is actually not the case. Mueller detailed a series of actions by the President that could be construed as obstructive behavior. Mueller, however, made no recommendation in the report as to whether Trump should be charged – citing the Office of Legal Counsel precedent that a sitting president can’t be indicted. (It was actually Attorney General William Barr who decided not to charge Trump with obstruction.)

And, on the transparency front, it’s important to remember that Trump – despite repeated assertions to the contrary – never sat down with an interview with Mueller an his team. Instead, Trump submitted written answers to questions from the special counsel. And, as The Washington Post’s Philip Bump notes, in 19 of the 22 answers Trump submitted to the special counsel he said he didn’t recall or remember some element of the underlying issue being asked about. So, there’s that.

What’s very clear from what happened in the Rose Garden Wednesday is this: Donald Trump was mad as hell and he wasn’t going to take it anymore. The man who has built a political career on name calling (“Sleepy Joe”! “Crazy Bernie”!) and rhetorical bullying didn’t like Pelosi using the word “cover-up.” So he took his ball and went home. No infrastructure deal. No nothing. Unless and until Democrats drop all of their investigations into the Executive Branch. Or, put another way: Unless Democrats forgo their constitutionally-mandated oversight capacity.

What’s fascinating/terrifying about all of this is that when Trump ran for president, he insisted he had the right temperament to be successful in the office while his opponent didn’t. In the first general election debate of the 2016 campaign, Trump said this of himself – and Hillary Clinton:

“I have much better judgment than she does. There’s no question about that. I also have a much better temperament than she does. I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament,” Trump said. “I have a winning temperament, I know how to win. She doesn’t win.”

The public didn’t agree. Just one in three voters (35%) said Trump had the right temperament to be president, according to 2016 exit polling, while 55% said the same of Clinton. Trump won anyway because the public wanted a change agent. Or liked his lack of presidential temperament.

And that may still be true for some segment of the public. They like him standing in the Rose Garden – Trump’s preferred presidential backdrop – and blasting Democrats.

But polling suggests that the hardcore GOP base is far less than a majority of Americans – or voters. And for the rest of the public – and the rest of the world who was undoubtedly watching (or will see) – you have to wonder how Trump’s angry demeanor sits with them.

Put simply: Do we want four more years of a pop-off president?