Trump Celebrates Impeachment Acquittal, Lashes Out at Political Foes
President Donald Trump, facing a bruising re-election campaign and possible further investigations in Congress, celebrated his acquittal on impeachment charges on Thursday in a speech that drew on White House pomp to underscore the fact that he remained in office.
After walking down a red carpet to a standing ovation from scores of Republican lawmakers, administration officials and conservative media figures in the White House, Trump re-aired old grievances and accused Democrats of staging a “corrupt” effort to undermine his presidency.
“I’ve done things wrong in my life, I will admit … but this is what the end result is,” Trump said, holding up a copy of The Washington Post with the headline “Trump acquitted.”
The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday voted to acquit Trump on charges brought by the Democratic-led House of Representatives, only the third time in US history that a president has been impeached.
The acquittal was Trump‘s biggest victory yet over his Democratic foes in Congress, who attacked Senate Republicans for refusing to call witnesses or seek new evidence at the trial.
Earlier on Thursday, Trump, who has strong support from evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics, faulted some of his opponents for invoking their religious faith during the impeachment battle. Trump did not mention anyone by name.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic who launched the impeachment inquiry in September, said in December that she does not hate Trump and that she prays for him. Republican Senator Mitt Romney, a Mormon, cited his religious faith when he voted to convict Trump on a charge of abuse of power on Wednesday. Romney was the only Republican to vote for conviction. No Democrat voted to acquit.
“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that that’s not so,” Trump said at the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.
He avoided greeting Pelosi, who sat steps away on the other side of the dais.
Pelosi said later that Trump‘s comments were inappropriate, especially at a prayer breakfast.
“He’s talking about things he knows little about — faith and prayer,” she told a news conference.
Asked if House Democrats could still work with the White House following impeachment: “That would be up to him. It certainly hasn’t changed in terms of us.”
She said Democrats were willing to work with Trump and his Republican allies on legislative efforts to lower healthcare costs and raise household income through infrastructure programs.
“There’s no such thing as eternal animosity,” she added. “Everybody is a possible ally in what comes next.”
Senate Republicans voted to acquit Trump of abuse of power for pressing Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden, a contender to be the Democratic nominee in the Nov. 3 presidential election, and of obstructing a congressional investigation of the matter.
Democrats were uncertain about their next steps in investigating Trump. There are several pending court cases related to Democratic efforts to get more information from Trump, and Pelosi issued a statement saying the House would protect the Constitution “both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion.”
But Democrats would not say whether they would subpoena John Bolton, Trump‘s former national security adviser, to testify to House committees. Senate Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to subpoena Bolton to testify during the trial.
Democrats have expressed concern an acquittal would encourage a president who already challenges political norms, painting him as a threat to US democracy and a demagogue who has acted lawlessly.
Eleven Democrats are vying for the right to challenge Trump in November, but Trump heads into the campaign with the advantages of a powerful fundraising machine and near universal support from Republicans.
Trump‘s job approval ratings have remained fairly consistent throughout his presidency and the impeachment process, as his core conservative supporters — especially white men, rural Americans, evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics — stuck with him.
The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted on Monday and Tuesday, showed 42% of American adults approved of his performance, while 54% disapproved. That was nearly the same as when the House launched its impeachment inquiry in September, when his approval stood at 43% and disapproval at 53%.