Phillips Responds to President Trump's Cancelled Infrastructure Meeting, Decries his "Woeful Lack of Leadership"
Phillips: “Whatever prompted his change of heart today in the Rose Garden. I'm not sure. But if that's all it took, that's a woeful lack of leadership, I'm afraid.”
Washington, DC, May 22, 2019
Earlier today, Congressman Dean Phillips (MN-03) joined Jake Tapper on CNN to discuss the cancelled infrastructure meeting at the White House, decrying President Trump’s “woeful lack of leadership.” This morning, Phillips announced his completed 36-city tour where infrastructure was raised as a top concern for every city in Minnesota’s 3rd District.
Below is a transcript of the interview:
TAPPER: Joining me now from Capitol Hill is Minnesota Democrat Congressman Dean Phillips. He's a freshman. He's on both the House Foreign Affairs and Financial Services Committees.
Speaker Pelosi made that comment after meeting with Democrats. Do you think ultimately it was a mistake for her to say that moments before meeting with President Trump?
REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): Well, mistakes are relative, Jake. I -- call it what you will. There's no question whatsoever that the president is making it awfully difficult for us to do our jobs, which is to provide oversight over the executive branch. And whatever prompted his change of heart today in the Rose Garden. I'm not sure. But if that's all it took, that's a woeful lack of leadership, I'm afraid.
TAPPER: Do you think President Trump is daring House Democrats to impeach him?
PHILLIPS: I've got to tell you, Jake, it's appearing increasingly evident that he may be doing just that. It is our job to provide oversight. I think we've been methodical, we've been principled and we've been awfully patient. But that patience has its limits. We surely are reaching that limit. And if this is a come and get me type of scenario, that's -- that's a shame for this country. I think we're better than that. I know most of my Republican colleagues here in Congress agree with that as well. Impeachment has some grave consequences and trauma for this country. I think most people would like to avoid that generally. But in this case, we have got to do our jobs. He's making it awfully difficult to do that.
TAPPER: What was the message from Speaker Pelosi for members of Congress at the meeting?
PHILLIPS: I thought it was a very -- I thought it was a fine message. She did a terrific job of laying out where we've been and where we need to go to. I think our committee chairs did a fantastic job of updating us as to their work. And the message was, we have to be methodical, we have to be principled. And, again, patience. We have been very patient and that has its limits. I think the caucus generally feels like I do, which is, we have got to learn more. I would rather that we exhaust every avenue in how we -- in finding the facts, if you will, rather than opening impeachment proceedings to find those facts. But we have more to learn. We have an obligation to do so, and that is our oath.
TAPPER: Do you think that impeaching President Trump would hurt House Democrats, potentially even hurt the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, by feeding into the narrative that President Trump has been putting out there, that he's under attack from partisans and he can't do the job he wants to do to help the American people and that you, House Democrats, are more focused on getting him than on helping the American people improve their lives.
PHILLIPS: You know, Jake, I think that's the political lens that drives Americans crazy. And while that may be the case, I'm not certain of that, because there are millions of Democrats that are calling for just the opposite that will be terribly disappointed as well. Our job is very simple, it is to pursue facts and let facts drive decisions. You know, when we take an oath to office, it's not to a party, it's to the Constitution. And that is what we are focused on. I surely do not look at this through a political lens. And, frankly, if I did, I probably would have called for impeachment well -- some months ago. I still believe that we have work to do and that we should exhaust every avenue to get there regardless of politics.
TAPPER: All right Congressman Dean Phillips, a freshman, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
PHILLIPS: Thank you, Jake.