President Donald Trump on Thursday gave a very Trump-like post-impeachment speech at the White House, criticizing Democrats for targeting him unfairly after he "did nothing wrong."
The Senate acquitted Trump yesterday of charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, both of which stemmed from his role in seeking to force Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to announce probes that targeted Trump's political rivals.
Trump honed in on multiple detractors throughout the hourlong speech. "We've been going through this now for over three years," he said. "It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops, it was leakers and liars. And this should never, ever happen to another president, ever."
He began by harkening back to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, characterizing it as a "witch hunt" facilitated to derail him. "It was all bullshit," Trump said.
He then pivoted to attacking Sen. Mitt Romney (R–Utah), who was the only Republican to vote for impeachment. In doing so, Romney became the first senator in history to support removing a president from his own party. According to Trump, Romney used "religion as a crutch" in deciding to convict him.
"Never heard him use it before," Trump said. "But today, you know, it's one of those things. But it's a failed presidential candidate, so things can happen when you fail so badly, running for president."
Trump also took aim at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D–Calif.), the lead impeachment manager. "These people are vicious," Trump declared. "Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person. Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person." Trump also reiterated that he believes Pelosi to be disingenuous when she says she prays for him: "She may pray, but she prays for the opposite," said Trump. "But, I doubt she prays at all."
Trump also spoke about former FBI Director James Comey. "It's possible I wouldn't even be standing here right now," Trump said, if he hadn't moved to terminate the "the top scum" in 2017. The president claims he was motivated to fire Comey after evaluating his handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email server.
"We caught him in the act," Trump said in what was likely a reference to the DOJ Office of Inspector General report that found Comey violated FBI policies when he shared an unclassified memo with a friend who he instructed to leak to the media. "Dirty cops. Bad people," Trump added.
Trump also praised his allies during the speech. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) "stayed there from the beginning" and "understood this was crooked politics." Of Trump loyalist Rep. Jim Jordan (R–Ohio), Trump noted that he never wears a jacket. "He's obviously very proud of his body," Trump said. "They say where he works out…the machine starts burning."
Rep. Steve Scalise (R–La.), who was shot in 2017 during a practice for the congressional baseball game, also received a lengthy plaudit. "He was not going to make it," Trump said. But he did and is better for it. "You're more handsome now," Trump said. "You weren't that good looking. You look good now." The president also celebrated Scalise's wife. "A lot of wives wouldn't give a damn," Trump said.
Trump came full circle at the end, thanking his family and once again lamenting the Democrats who pressed his impeachment. "I want to apologize to my family for having them have to go through a phony, rotten deal by some very evil and sick people," he said.
Although Romney was the sole GOP senator to support an article of impeachment, multiple other Republicans argued that Trump's behavior was nevertheless improper. Sen. Susan Collins (R–Maine) originally said that she believed Trump had learned from his mistakes, although she later backtracked and conceded that such a remark was more "aspirational" than realistic.
"The president [asked a] federal government to investigate a political rival," said Collins. "And he should not have done that. And I would hope that he would not do it again."
As Trump's speech indicates, Collins' aspirations will remain aspirational.