President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Bolton ‘refused’ to submit affidavit on Trump’s involvement in Ukraine controversy Yang congratulates Romney for ‘voting his conscious and character’ in convicting Trump McConnell ‘disappointed’ by Romney impeachment vote, but ‘I’m going to need his support’ MORE on Thursday celebrated his impeachment acquittal during a freewheeling White House speech in which he declared vindication and denied any shred of wrongdoing having survived the most perilous stretch of his presidency.
“This is really not a news conference, it’s not a speech. It’s not anything,” Trump said to a crowd of GOP lawmakers, Cabinet officials, family members and other supporters at the East Room of the White House. “It’s just, we’re sort of, it’s a celebration because we have something that just worked out.
“It’s called total acquittal,” said Trump, who held aloft a newspaper headline declaring him cleared by the GOP-controlled Senate.
What followed was a mixture of a victory lap, a condensed campaign rally and an airing of grievances. Trump spoke for an hour, relying sparingly on the printed notes he had in front of him.
Reps. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzTrump allies blast Romney over impeachment vote: ‘A sore loser’ Overnight Defense: House passes bills to rein in Trump on Iran | Pentagon seeks Iraq’s permission to deploy missile defenses | Roberts refuses to read Paul question on whistleblower during impeachment trial Here are the lawmakers who defected on Iran legislation MORE (R-Fla.), Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsLoeffler works to gain traction with conservatives amid Collins primary bid Senate Democrats outraise Republicans, but GOP has cash edge The Hill’s Campaign Report: Four-way sprint to Iowa finish line MORE (R-Ga.), Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanThe Memo: Trump threatens to overshadow Democrats in Iowa Jordan says he will support McCarthy for Speaker if majority flips next year Collins Senate bid sets off game of musical chairs for GOP MORE (R-Ohio), Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikTrump urges Congress to pass bill allowing new parents to advance tax credits House GOP introduces bill to secure voter registration systems against foreign hacking Meadows: Republicans who break with Trump could face political repercussions MORE (R-N.Y.) and Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsLoeffler works to gain traction with conservatives amid Collins primary bid The Memo: Trump threatens to overshadow Democrats in Iowa Jordan says he will support McCarthy for Speaker if majority flips next year MORE (R-N.C.) were among the guests, as were Fox News host Laura IngrahamLaura Anne IngrahamTrump asks ‘what the hell has happened’ to Fox News after interview with Democratic senator GOP cries boredom in attack on impeachment case Giuliani says he was ‘misled’ by Parnas MORE and contributor Katie Pavlich. Several GOP senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell ‘disappointed’ by Romney impeachment vote, but ‘I’m going to need his support’ McConnell tees up five Trump judges after impeachment trial wraps What the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber MORE (R-Ky.), were in attendance as well.
He recognized each of the lawmakers in attendance, taking a jovial tone as he recognized them each individually and riffing on the origins of their relationships that he said had been strengthened in the last few months.
Trump boasted about stock market gains under his administration and predicted Republicans would retake the House majority because of a backlash to impeachment.
“The spirit for the Republican Party right now is, I think, stronger than it’s ever been in the history of our country,” Trump said.
Few of Trump’s most prominent foils were spared on Thursday. He called former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump is flooding the swamp that Obama drained Comey op-ed: US democracy won’t ‘come apart’ if Trump isn’t removed from office CNN’s Axelrod says impeachment didn’t come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE “a disaster” and a “sleaze,” complained about the Russia investigation at length, ripped Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Schumer praise Romney after impeachment vote Senate acquits Trump, ending impeachment saga McCarthy to submit copy of Trump’s SOTU address to House Clerk for archives MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSchiff: Bolton ‘refused’ to submit affidavit on Trump’s involvement in Ukraine controversy What the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber Trump to make statement on impeachment ‘victory’ on Thursday MORE (D-Calif.) as “vicious” and “horrible” people, chided Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyYang congratulates Romney for ‘voting his conscious and character’ in convicting Trump McConnell ‘disappointed’ by Romney impeachment vote, but ‘I’m going to need his support’ Pence celebrates Trump’s acquittal: ‘It’s over, America’ MORE (R-Utah) for being a “failed presidential candidate” and complained Democrats running for president are “saying the most horrendous things about me.”
Trump insisted he did nothing wrong and described his phone call with Ukraine’s president at the center of his impeachment as a “good phone call.”
“We went through hell, unfairly. Did nothing wrong,” Trump said Thursday. “I’ve done things wrong in life, I will admit. Not purposely. But I’ve done things wrong. But this is what the end result is.”
He did offer one apology, saying he was sorry his family had to go through “a phony, rotten deal by some very sick, evil people.”
The Senate on Wednesday acquitted Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress approved by the Democratic-controlled House. Democrats alleged he pressured Ukraine to investigate his political rivals by withholding security aid.
On the first article, 52 senators voted to acquit and 48 senators voted to convict; Romney was the lone Republican to join Democratic senators in voting to remove Trump from office on the abuse of power charge. On obstruction, 53 senators voted to acquit and 47 voted to convict.
Romney’s vote was significant. He became the first senator in U.S. history to vote to remove a president from their own political party through an impeachment trial.
The development brought an end to a months-long process that entrenched divisions on Capitol Hill and lifted a cloud that has followed Trump since late September when the House launched an impeachment inquiry into his dealings with Ukraine following revelations from a whistleblower complaint.
There was speculation leading up to Wednesday’s vote that the White House would get at least one Democratic senator to cross over and vote to acquit Trump on at least one of the articles. But the three Democrats considered swing votes — Sens. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinWhat the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber Overnight Defense: Senate votes to acquit Trump | Highlights from State of the Union | Trump defends Soleimani strike | Service member surprises family at speech | Air Force tests ICBM Senate votes to acquit Trump on articles of impeachment MORE (D-W.Va.) — all voted to convict Trump on both charges.
The outcome appeared to catch the White House by surprise. On Wednesday, Vice President Pence said on Fox News he was expecting a “bipartisan vote” to acquit Trump.
The president has lashed out at Romney on Twitter, and he used his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast to take issue with the Utah senator’s faith.
A handful of Republican senators — Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCollins reacts to angry voicemails in response to acquittal vote What the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber Collins: It’s ‘very sexist’ to assume I asked McConnell’s permission in witness vote MORE (R-Maine), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderWhat the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber Romney shocks GOP with vote to convict Senate acquits Trump, ending impeachment saga MORE (R-Tenn.) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiWhat the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber Romney shocks GOP with vote to convict GOP senators reject punishing Romney for impeachment vote MORE (R-Alaska) among them — have denounced Trump’s behavior toward Ukraine as inappropriate and wrong, but still voted to acquit him, arguing it was best for voters to decide his fate.
But Trump is unlikely to be chastened by their condemnations, or in Collins’s case her hope Trump learned “a pretty big lesson” from the impeachment proceedings.
Trump on Thursday, appearing to reference Collins’s comments, said it was “OK” that some senators felt his actions were inappropriate before adding “it’s incorrect.”
Trump appeared unready to fully move on from impeachment on Thursday.
His speech was peppered with attacks on Democrats, and he assured the room full of supporters he was prepared to keep up the fight as Democrats signaled they would continue to pursue investigations.
“If they find that I happen to walk across the street and maybe go against the light or something: let’s impeach him. So I’ll probably have to do it again because these people have gone stone cold crazy. But I’ve beaten them all my life, and I’ll beat them again if I have to.”