Tue. May 24th, 2022

By the New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Thursday denounced the “evil” and “corrupt” Democrats who impeached him as he claimed vindication following his acquittal in a Senate trial and expressed deep resentment at the investigations that have marked his presidency.

At a jampacked ceremony in the East Room of the White House that veered back and forth between celebration and condemnation, the president complained about the “crooked politics” that had resulted in his impeachment and trial on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

In addition to Democrats and other favorite targets, he singled out Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, the only Republican to vote for conviction.

“It was evil,” Mr. Trump told the roomful of supporters from Congress and his administration in a long, rambling, stream-of-consciousness talk, tossing aside the text that had been so carefully prepared for him by his staff. “It was corrupt. It was dirty cops. It was leakers and liars and this should never ever happen to another president, ever. I don’t know that other presidents would have been able to take it.”

He reviewed the long litany of investigations against him over the last three years, dismissing them all as nothing more than partisan efforts to take him down and suggesting that the “top scum” at the F.B.I. had plotted to stop him from serving as president.

“We went through Russia, Russia, Russia,” he said, mocking the investigations into Moscow’s interference in the 2016 presidential election on his behalf and ties between his campaign and Moscow. “It was all bullshit,” he said, a rare presidential use of profanity on camera in the East Room.

Mr. Trump held up a copy of The Washington Post to show its banner headline, “Trump Acquitted,” to applause in the audience, then picked up the theme he started earlier in the day at the National Prayer Breakfast when he lashed out at his opponents.

He assailed Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Adam B. Schiff, both Democrats from California. “They’re vicious and mean,” Mr. Trump said. “Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person. Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person.”

He ridiculed Ms. Pelosi for saying that she has prayed for the president even while opposing him. “She may pray but she prays for the opposite,” Mr. Trump said. “But I doubt she prays at all.”

Mr. Trump also denounced Mr. Romney, the Republican Party’s presidential nominee in 2012, as “a failed presidential candidate” who used “religion as a crutch” when announcing his vote to remove the president from office.

The talk included a greatest-hits string of attacks on some of his top villains, including the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey (“that sleazebag”), his onetime deputy Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok (“two lowlifes”), the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele as well as Hunter Biden, Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.

But he thanked his lawyers and a series of congressional Republicans, praising them one by one for their support during the impeachment battle. In particular, he thanked Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader who was the president’s most important defender in the Senate. “You did a fantastic job,” Mr. Trump told Mr. McConnell.

The president’s angry performance was the diametrical opposite of how President Bill Clinton reacted to his own acquittal after a Senate impeachment trial in 1999. On the day he was cleared of charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, Mr. Clinton appeared alone in the Rose Garden, avoided any gloating, apologized for his part in leading to the conflict and called for reconciliation.

Mr. Trump  insisted again that he did nothing wrong although even some of the Republicans who voted against conviction said that his efforts to coerce Ukraine into helping him tarnish his domestic political rivals were inappropriate. Instead, he has presented himself as the victim of a partisan witch hunt and his aides and allies over the last day have expressed a desire to exact payback.

The Senate rejected both articles almost entirely along party lines, with Mr. Romney the only member of the upper chamber to break party ranks. Mr. Romney voted for conviction and removal from office on the article charging abuse of power, calling the president’s actions a blatant violation of the public trust, but voted against the obstruction of Congress article, arguing that the House should have pursued court options to obtain information blocked by the White House.

The first article thus fell 48 to 52, far short of the 67 required by the Constitution for conviction and the second article was rejected 47 to 53.

The battle is hardly over, though. House Democrats indicated they will continue their investigation and subpoena John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser, while Senate Republicans moved to investigate Hunter Biden for his business dealings in Ukraine while his father, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., was in office.

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