On Thursday afternoon, Donald Trump went before the cameras and a small audience at the White House to giddily declare victory in his turf war against the Democrats’ (and Mitt Romney’s!) “Impeachment HOAX.”
What followed was a rambling hodge-podge of commemoration, grievance-peddling, right-wing talking points, and gory, violent detail. He namechecked his friends and dragged his enemies. It wasn’t so much a victory lap as it was a brief history of the Trump era, as told and written by Donald J. Trump.
“It was evil, it was corrupt,” the president said—referring to not just the Ukraine saga and impeachment drive but to the past three years of scandal and investigations—to a roaring, applauding crowd that included members of his impeachment defense and legal team. “Dirty cops, bad people,” he added, sniping at fired FBI director James Comey in particular.
But Trump wasn’t content to just riff on impeachment, acquittal, and the “corrupt,” anti-MAGA deep state. He regaled the gathering with claims of how his 2016 victory over Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton kept the U.S. economy safe and sound. “If we didn’t win, the stock market would have crashed,” he alleged. He bragged about defying the polls during 2016 that suggested he’d tank on election night. He talked about how well he was doing “in Iowa” with Republican voters right now. And he railed against “bullshit.”
“It’s a celebration,” Trump said about the day’s event. “I’ve done things wrong in my life, I will admit… but this is what the end result is,” he noted, as an uneven laugh-line.
The president talked about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and “Russia, Russia Russia,” and how “it was all bullshit” that “ruined” the lives of some of his advisers and supporters. (Trump has repeatedly said “bullshit” in public over the past year, and he’s privately bragged about all the headlines he can generate simply by swearing.)
He mocked “Bob Mueller” for his public testimony on Capitol Hill. He slammed Democrats as “vicious as hell” and “lousy” politicians who will “probably come back for more.” He briefly lashed out at “illegal aliens,” as well as the Democrats’ ongoing Iowa caucus fiasco. He sneered at the “FBI lovers…Lisa and Peter.” He lauded Senate majority leader and “great guy” who’s “tough to read” Mitch McConnell for being so effective at stacking the judiciary with conservative judges. He went down a list praising many of his Republican fellow-travelers and diehards such as Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, even complimenting the congressman’s “body” and how much he worked out.
He said, in an attempt at charm, that Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise set a “record for blood loss” in 2017 when some “whackjob” shot him. “What a guy!” Trump droned on, before launching into a gratuitous tangent about the horrific congressional-baseball shooting.
And Trump, of course, bashed Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the only GOP senator who voted with the Democratic lawmakers in the impeachment trial Wednesday, as nothing more than a “failed presidential candidate” who ran one of the “worst” campaigns in the history of campaigning.
“They brought me to the final stages of impeachment,” the president said, before pivoting to his “gorgeous” and “total acquittal.”
His remarks at the White House came just hours after his appearance at the annual National Prayer Breakfast, where he devoted a chunk of his time to trashing Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Romney. He reprised those attacks in the White House East Room, telling supporters that Romney’s religious invocations seemed phony and that he doesn’t believe Pelosi when she says she prays for his soul.
In his remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Romney invoked his faith as a reason he voted to convict Trump during the Senate impeachment trial; Pelosi has repeatedly said that she prays for this president.
On Thursday, the president appeared unwilling and unready to let the Ukraine affair go, using his White House address to briefly touch on the foreign work of Hunter Biden, the son of Barack Obama’s vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Meanwhile, some of his top allies in media, the Republican Party, and his inner circle have publicly indicated that they aren’t through with the Biden family, either.
Rudy Giuliani—Trump’s personal lawyer whose Biden and Ukraine dirt-digging resulted in this president’s impeachment—told The Daily Beast earlier this week he plans on “ramping up,” post-acquittal, his probe into Joe and Hunter Biden. “It’s a matter of the fair administration of justice for real,” he said. And roughly one hour after Trump’s acquittal Wednesday, Republican senators Ron Johnson (WI) and Chuck Grassley (IA) announced a review regarding “potential conflicts of interest posed by the business activities of Hunter Biden and his associates during the Obama” years.
And it was merely two weeks ago that Eric Ueland, a top aide to Trump and the White House’s legislative affairs director, strode passed a huddle of Capitol Hill reporters, saying, “I can’t wait for the revenge.”
On Thursday, as he neared the conclusion of his hour-long monologue, the president told the audience that “we went through hell,” and that his “sick,” “rotten” liberal political enemies on the Hill still endeavor to “destroy our country.”
Trump, with First Lady Melania Trump at his side, finished by telling those gathered, “It’s an honor to be with the people in this room, thank you very much, everybody, thank you.”