Trump, speaking from the Normandy American Cemetery, blasted the Pelosi as a “disgrace” after she reportedly said she would rather see him in jail than impeach him. His broadside underscored his code of striking back hard when he is criticized, whatever the circumstances.
“I’ve tried to be nice to her because I would’ve liked to have gotten some deals done,” he said in the interview from France with Fox News, which aired Thursday night, in response to Pelosi’s reported comment. “She’s incapable of doing deals.”
“She’s a nasty, vindictive, horrible person,” the President added.
British officials were relieved that Trump left the country without any political disasters. The White House, which hasn’t had many overseas wins, is also pleased with the trip.
Trump’s reception was a reminder of the power of the United States and the institution of the presidency, notwithstanding his poor approval ratings in Europe and the headaches he has caused for allied leaders over the past two years.
The low expectations for Trump’s trip, however — following his outbursts at summits and other unpredictable behavior — also reflect diminished expectations for this particular White House.
While Trump was in France on Thursday, his team back in Washington was frantically trying to find an off-ramp for the latest tariff confrontation with Mexico, though time to seal a deal is running short.
While the President has sent conflicting signs about his threat to impose 5% tariffs that would escalate by 5% a month if Mexico does not do more to halt the flow of migrants, his vice president and press secretary indicated Thursday that plans for the tariffs were proceeding.
“Something pretty dramatic could happen,” Trump told reporters in Ireland on Thursday.
But, he added, “we’ve told Mexico the tariffs go on. And we mean it, too.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Thursday afternoon that the US “position has not changed, and we are still moving forward with tariffs at this time.”
Vice President Mike Pence echoed that message shortly afterward.
“The President announced 5% tariffs would be imposed on Monday on all goods coming from Mexico. That’s the policy of the United States,” he said. “The President said what he means and he means what he says.”
Trump faces a Friday deadline to sign an executive order to ensure the tariffs go into effect by Monday’s deadline.
Trump’s sudden offensive against Mexico represents his latest effort to quell a crisis at the border that his hardline rhetoric and flexing of executive power have failed to solve.
In May, more than 144,000 migrants were encountered or arrested at the frontier — a roughly 32% increase over April and the highest monthly tally in 13 years, according to US officials.
Uncertainty over which way the President will lean on Mexico deepened when he tweeted early Thursday that “progress is being made, but not nearly enough!”
His hint of flexibility in Ireland could be a sign that he is feeling heat from Republican senators, who have not ruled out an attempt to block the tariffs from going into force.
If the President’s hard-line tactics force Mexico to do more to halt the large numbers of undocumented migrants — or even if it offers cosmetic concessions — Trump could claim a political victory. But the spat is yet another indication of how his reliance on tariffs as a primary foreign-policy tool maneuvers him into tough political corners.
Talks on the showdown intensified in Washington on Thursday, stretching into the night, and officials from the White House, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security met to discuss next steps.
“What Mexico is offering is not enough,” said Mercedes Schlapp, White House director of strategic communications.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Thursday, however, that he was “optimistic” a deal could be reached.
‘I want to see him in prison’
If the President’s latest clash with Mexico does get solved before Monday, next week is still certain to see a worsening of Washington’s already fractious political climate.
Democrats on Thursday released the text of a contempt resolution targeting Attorney General William Barr and ex-White House counsel Don McGahn ahead of a full House vote next week.
New controversy is surrounding Pelosi, who is facing rising pressure in her Democratic caucus to subject Trump to the drama of an impeachment inquiry.
The report, quoting multiple Democratic sources, was not denied by Pelosi’s office. The speaker has been loath to initiate the impeachment process, fearing that it could backfire and give the President a platform to boost his reelection effort.
The report added extra spice to the already tumultuous relationship between Trump and Pelosi, the two most politically powerful figures in Washington, who are both constantly sculpting the battlefield ahead of the 2020 election.
Republicans, who control the Senate and are unlikely to vote to convict Trump in any impeachment trial, are already capitalizing on the reported remark to hint at Democratic overreach.
“She didn’t say that. No, she didn’t say that,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. “To go to prison, you’ve got to violate a law. What law’s been violated?”
CNN’s Kate Sullivan, Jeremy Diamond and Kaitlin Collins contributed to this report.