NEW YORK - US President Donald Trump has angrily lashed out at Democratic leaders’ claims he is engaged in a “cover-up.” “I don’t do cover-ups,” the Republican president said in an unscheduled statement from the White House.

It came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met fellow Democrats to discuss impeaching the president. Mr Trump is fighting congressional inquiries by ignoring subpoenas, withholding documents and blocking testimony by current and ex-advisers.

The president held a scheduled meeting about infrastructure with Democratic leaders Mrs Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on Wednesday, but it broke up after just five minutes. Mr Trump told reporters later: “This whole thing was a takedown attempt.”

“I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, that I wanted to do infrastructure,” Mr Trump said. “Get these phoney investigations over with.” The president charged his political opponents with “abuse” and railed against their invoking “the big i word”, a reference to impeachment.

According to CBS News, a source familiar with the meeting said Mr Trump walked into the room and told Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schumer that the speaker’s earlier comments about a cover-up were inconsiderate.

He told them the Democrats needed to finish their congressional investigations against him before he would discuss anything else. In a news conference immediately following Mr Trump’s, Mrs Pelosi said the president “wasn’t really respectful of the Congress and the White House working together”.

“In any event, I pray for the President of the United States and I pray for the United States of America,” she said. “We were interested - we are interested in doing infrastructure,” Mr Schumer added at the news conference. “It’s clear the president isn’t. He is looking for every excuse.”

Mr Schumer accused Mr Trump of “running away” in a “planned” manoeuvre. “When we got in the room, the curtains were closed,” Mr Schumer said. “There was a place for him at the front so he could stand and attempt to tell us why he wouldn’t do infrastructure, and of course, then he went to the Rose Garden with prepared signs that had been printed long before our meeting.”