Democrats deny outreach to Trump since talks collapsed

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday denied that top Democrats had reached out to the White House to restart negotiations on coronavirus aid despite claims from President Trump that they had.

“Fables from Donald Trump. Fables. That’s what he seems to specialize in. I didn’t call him. Speaker Pelosi didn’t call him. No, we didn’t call him,” Schumer said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when asked about the president’s assertion.

“He makes these things up or hears from somebody at one of his fundraisers or at his country club,” Schumer continued. “‘Oh, the Democrats are calling you.’ He acts like it’s true.”

A senior Democratic aide also said there had been no contact with Trump from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) or the Senate minority leader.

Trump told reporters late Sunday as he departed New Jersey that the Democrats had reached out with interest about making a deal on coronavirus legislation after he took unilateral action on certain key topics. The president again claimed in a tweet on Monday morning that Democrats had renewed interest in talks.

“So now Schumer and Pelosi want to meet to make a deal. Amazing how it all works, isn’t it,” Trump tweeted. “Where have they been for the last 4 weeks when they were ‘hardliners’, and only wanted BAILOUT MONEY for Democrat run states and cities that are failing badly? They know my phone number!”

Trump on Saturday signed three memos and an executive order at his New Jersey golf club after talks between administration officials and the top Democrats faltered. The orders aim to extend enhanced unemployment benefits, defer collection of the payroll tax and provide relief on evictions and student loans.

Republicans credited Trump with taking action amid congressional gridlock, but Democrats and some experts cast doubt on the efficacy of the orders.

One of the president’s memos would require already cash-strapped states to contribute to enhanced unemployment benefits. Another defers the payroll tax, which does little to assist unemployed Americans. The order on evictions only directs federal agencies to provide assistance but does not explicitly prevent renters from being evicted.

Talks between the White House and congressional Democrats faltered late last week as the two were unable to reach an agreement on providing aid to Americans reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

Republicans have balked at the price tag of Democrats’ proposal — the House passed a $3.4 trillion measure back in May — and opposed the amount requested to provide relief to state and local governments. Democrats said they offered to reduce the price of their proposal by $1 trillion but were rebuffed by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Schumer expressed confidence in Democrats’ negotiating position on Monday, arguing Republicans have little choice but to come to the table.

“The Republicans, you know, they’re in a pickle,” Schumer said. “You have 20 of them who don’t want any money whatsoever, but then you have 10 or 15, many running for reelection, who are desperate to get a package. And they’re all hanging their hats on this executive order. … Well, now it’s clear that these executive orders are going to be minimal at best.”

Jordain Carney contributed reporting.

Tags Chuck Schumer coronavirus relief COVID-19 Donald Trump Mark Meadows Nancy Pelosi Steven Mnuchin Stimulus

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