McConnell Makes Dubious Claim That He Never Turned Down Obama Meeting

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks at  a news conference about the Republican tax plan and how the GOP says it will help small business, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) did not appear happy with Democratic leaders’ decision to not attend a meeting with President Donald Trump after the President criticized the Democratic lawmakers ahead of the gathering.

“I never refused to go to a meeting that President Obama called, a bipartisan meeting,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “It never occurred to me that I could just say to President Obama ‘I’m not showing up.’ That strikes me as a lack of seriousness about the matter before us, which is the funding of the federal government of the United States for the rest of this fiscal year.”

The Senate Republican leader’s comments about “never” refusing a meeting with Trump’s predecessor aren’t entirely accurate. In 2010, House Democratic leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) criticized McConnell and other Republican leaders, saying he was “disappointed” that Republicans were too busy to accept a bipartisan meeting with Obama and Democratic leaders, the Wall Street Journal reported. At the time, a McConnell spokesperson said the White House made the mistake of announcing the meeting before checking to see if he was available for it.

Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement Tuesday saying they weren’t going to attend the President’s “show meeting” since it was clear Trump already had made up his mind about not reaching across the aisle.

“Given that the President doesn’t see a deal between Democrats and the White House, we believe the best path forward is to continue negotiating with our Republican counterparts in Congress instead,” Schumer and Pelosi said in their statement.

Trump met with congressional Republicans on Capitol Hill Tuesday and was scheduled to meet with Democratic and Republican leaders. But he tweeted Tuesday morning “I don’t see a deal!” before they were scheduled to talk.