WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump and the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee are engaged in a feud over who canceled a scheduled meeting.
“He was probably told, ‘Don’t meet with Trump, its bad politics,’ and that’s part of the problem in this country,” Trump said in response to a question at a news conference on Thursday in which he blamed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for the cancellation.
That’s one side of the story. Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.) called it a lie.
“I have no idea why President Trump would make up a story about me like he did today. Of course, Senator Schumer never told me to skip a meeting with the President,” Cummings responded in a statement on Thursday.
The exchange was triggered by Trump’s assertion to a reporter that he had been unsuccessful in attempting to arrange a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, of which Cummings is a member.
The reporter had inquired as to whether Trump would work with the CBC to address issues of concern to the African-American community. Candidate Trump had promised to crack down on inner-city crime and promote educational opportunities in impoverished neighborhoods.
Cummings in the statement said he was disappointed the meeting had been canceled.
“I was actually looking forward to meeting with the President about the skyrocketing price of prescription drugs. What I have been doing for the past several weeks is working closely with my partner on these efforts, Senator Bernie Sanders. My goal was to finalize our proposal to allow HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) to negotiate lower drug prices so I could present it to the President. The President has said many times that he supports this proposal, so I wanted to have our bill ready to get his support.”
On Wednesday Cummings and Ranking Judiciary Committee Democrat John Conyers (Mich.) requested a “full classified briefing” regarding reports suggesting that the White House had been warned three weeks ago that former National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn might have been a susceptible to Russian blackmail and that the administration ignored the warning.
Flynn resigned on Monday following reports that he had diplomatically engaged Russia’s ambassador prior to Trump taking office. The report suggested Flynn gave the impression that the incoming administration would consider lifting sanctions imposed on Moscow in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from neighboring Ukraine.