State of Union

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, as Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., watch, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.

WASHINGTON — Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy challenged Democrats in Congress to “urinate or get off the pot” when it comes to investigating President Donald Trump, just hours after Trump’s explosive meeting with Democratic leaders of the House and Senate on Wednesday.

"The House leadership needs to indict the president of the United States, impeach him, and let us hold a trial — he won’t be convicted — or they need to go ahead and hold in contempt every single member of the Trump administration so we can move those issues into our court system and get back to doing the people’s business,” the first-term Republican from Madisonville said during a fiery speech on the U.S. Senate floor.

“What I hope happens is that my friends in House leadership and the administration sit down and talk — not talk like 8-year-olds in the back of a minivan fighting — but talk constructively about how their behavior could impact important institutions in this country and work it out.”

Trump was scheduled to meet at the White House with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other influential Democrats about infrastructure and other priorities. But the president abruptly left the meeting to hold a news conference in the Rose Garden and took aim at Democrats who have continued to push for steps toward impeachment.

"I came here to do a meeting on infrastructure with Democrats, not really thinking they wanted to do infrastructure or anything else, other than investigate. 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,'" he said. "I don't do cover-ups."

Pelosi and other Democratic leaders said they were shocked at how the meeting unfolded.

"We had hoped that we could give this president an opportunity to have a signature infrastructure initiative to create jobs, to improve the quality of life, to just do so much for our country on the ongoing — not only the jobs it created by building, but the commerce it would promote," Pelosi told reporters in her recounting of what happened. "He just took a pass 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," she added.

In a written letter to the House Democratic Caucus, Pelosi further claimed Trump “threatened to stop working with Democrats on all legislation unless we end oversight of his administration and he had a temper tantrum for us all to see.”

Schumer said Democrats were prepared to present the president with a 35-page plan for infrastructure spending priorities.

“We are interested in doing infrastructure,” he said. "It's clear the President isn't.”

He accused the president of using the investigations as an excuse to cut the meeting short.

“There were investigations going on three weeks ago when we met, and he still met with us,” Schumer said. “But now that he was forced to actually say how he'd pay for it, he had to run away.”

The latest showdown between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration comes amid mounting pressure from some on the left for an impeachment inquiry, which Trump repeatedly referred to in his news conference as the “i-word.”

Pelosi has widely been credited with attempting to tamp down impeachment talk, focusing instead on further investigations into possible obstruction of justice, following the release of special counsel Robert Mulleur’s recent report on the Trump campaign’s alleged involvement with Russia.

Louisiana’s Congressional delegation has stayed loyal to party lines, with all Republicans agreeing that the president has been exonerated and Congress should move on. The lone Democrat, Cedric Richmond, a member of the influential House Judiciary Committee who hales from New Orleans, has said the president should be investigated and described his own "sole focus" as being on making sure Trump doesn’t win a second term.

In taking to the Senate floor on Wednesday, Kennedy argued the probes into Trump have been a distraction and have added to Washington gridlock.

He blasted the federal legislative branch — Democrats in particular — for accomplishing "Zero, Zilch, Nada” since the term started in January and ignoring other priorities.

He accused House Democratic leaders of making it a priority "to harass the president" while pushing bills that “don’t have a hope in Hades of passing.”

“We call those bills ‘messaging bills,’" he said. “They’re not designed for the next generation, they’re designed for the next election.”

Despite issues between Trump and Congressional leaders, Kennedy said he thinks that there is room for bipartisan agreement on priority legislation, including efforts to bring down prescription drug costs.

“I don’t know what the president’s motivation is. It could be Machiavellian. It could just be he’s frustrated,” Kennedy said later during an appearance on MSNBC’s Meet the Press. “I was sent up here to deliberate and decide. Not participate in delay and stultification.”


Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.