Trump says Pelosi is holding up USMCA trade deal for impeachment votes

Mario Parker and Jordan Fabian

President Donald Trump complained that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t advancing his signature re-write of the North American Free Trade Agreement and accused her of somehow using the accord to secure votes for his impeachment.

“Nancy Pelosi can’t get it off her desk. Just can’t do it,” Trump told reporters at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “I think the woman is grossly incompetent. All she has to do is put it up for a vote.”

President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, in Washington.

It isn’t clear where the new trade deal, called the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement, stands in the House. The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Democrat Richard Neal of Massachusetts, said earlier Tuesday that it could be finished by Christmas. But a fellow Democrat, Rosa DeLauro, said there has been no recent progress in negotiations.

“As the president well knows, the speaker has been working diligently with his trade representative to advance Democrats further down a path to yes on the USMCA,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi, said in an email. “The president’s desperate attacks aside, this issue is totally separate from the ongoing impeachment inquiry.”

Trump said that Pelosi only wants to “focus on impeachment, which is just a little pipe dream she’s got.”

“And I’ve been told – I mean, who knows if this is so but I think it’s so, I have pretty good authority on it – that she’s using USMCA because she doesn’t have the impeachment votes,” he added. “So she’s using USMCA to get the impeachment votes.”

Hammill said Pelosi isn’t whipping votes on impeachment, noting that Democratic leadership haven’t yet decided to proceed with action to remove the president from office.

Pelosi held a meeting on trade with about 40 Democratic freshmen representatives and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Tuesday, during an impeachment hearing, according to a person present. Trumka outlined his union’s concerns about the USMCA, which include Mexico’s commitment to overhaul its labor laws, the person said.