‘When I fired that sleazebag, all hell broke out…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) A day after his acquittal on impeachment charges, President Donald Trump tossed out yet another political “norm” by pulling back the curtain to celebrate the many “warriors” who had stood by and fought for him.
The event offered several moments of post-impeachment introspection from the president, jubilation and even tenderness rarely seen from the Republicans in attendance.
“This is really not a news conference, it’s not a speech—it’s not anything,” Trump said. “… It’s a celebration, because we have something that just worked out.”
He held up a copy of The Washington Post with the massive headline “Trump Acquitted,” joking that it as the only positive press he had ever received from the newspaper.
“We’ve been treated very unfairly. Fortunately we have great men and women who came to our defense,” Trump said during the roughly hourlong speech. “If we didn’t, this would have been a horrific incident for our country.”
In contrast with the rehearsed eloquence of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, his talk on Thursday to a gathering of his closest supporters—including Republican members of Congress, his Cabinet, and the now familiar faces of White House counsel like Pat Cipollone and Jay Sekulow—returned to the more casual, jocular and freewheeling style used at many of his rallies.
The talk was, in one sense, a State of the GOP address.
“The spirit for the Republican Party right now is stronger—I think—than it’s ever been in the history of our country,” Trump said.
Roasting His Allies
The president spent the bulk of the rally seeking to shore up his bases support among political allies and rewarding those who had put much at stake politically, with shout-outs to several members of Congress.
Trump regaled and roasted some of his closest congressional allies, such as Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa (“He’s got this voice that scares people…”) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (“the greatest poker player”).
He talked about the past wrestling career of Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio (“He’s obviously very proud of his body…”) and spoke in candid and lighthearted terms of the near assassination of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana at the hands of a deranged gunman (“Honestly, I think you’re better-looking now…”)
He praised the tenacity of Rep. Devin Nunes of California, who went toe-to-toe with Schiff as the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, calling him “the other side’s worst nightmare.”
Trump said he had not heard of Nunes until the Democrats’ corruption came to light early in his presidency.
“I didn’t even know him,” said the president. “I just heard there was this congressman who kept going into a basement, into files. He knew something was wrong—you felt it.”
‘Vicious and Mean’
The president also used the opportunity for score-settling with his many political adversaries.
He criticized GOP Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, the sole Republican to support one of the articles of impeachment.
“The only one that voted against was a guy that can’t stand the fact that he ran one of the worst campaigns in the history of the presidency,” Trump said.
He also spoke in brutal terms of the corruption on the Left, calling out “failed screenwriter” Adam Schiff, “Crying Chuck” Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom he simply characterized as “a horrible person.”
Trump doubted Pelosi’s claims that she had ever opposed impeachment and that she prayed for him.
“She may pray, but she prays for the opposite,” he said. “But I doubt she ever prays.”
However, Trump credited the Democrats for their singular focus in playing political hardball.
“They do two things: They’re vicious and mean,” he said.
However, “they stick together like glue—that’s how they impeached,” he added.
“… I will say, it’s genius on the other side,” he continued “… because they took nothing and brought me to impeachment.”
Trump also expressed tentative hope for future bipartisan progress in spite of the divisions.
“What we can do working with both parties in Congress would be unbelievable,” he said. “… We’ve done so much without it.”
But he also acknowledged that the Democrats’ vendetta against him was not likely to end in the foreseeable future.
“I’m sure they’ll try and cook up other things,” he said.
“They’ll go through the state of New York, they’ll go through other places,” he continued. “They’ll do whatever they can, because instead of trying to heal our country and fix our country, all they want to do, in my opinion, it’s almost like they want to destroy our country.”
Noting that he’d been squaring off against crooked New York politicians like Schumer and Rep. Jerrold Nadler for much of his life, Trump mused that he wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to impeach him for jaywalking.
“If they find that I happen to walk across the street and maybe go against the light or something, ‘Let’s impeach him,’” Trump joked. “These people have gone stone-cold crazy, but I’ve beaten them all my life, and I’ll do it again if I have to.”
‘All Hell Broke Out’
“If I won, they were gonna do exactly what they did to us,” Trump said. “They were gonna try and overthrow the government of the United States.”
Trump said if it were not for his firing of disgraced Obama FBI Director James Comey, which triggered the two-year Mueller investigation, the partisan plot within the intelligence community might never have come to light.
“When I fired that sleazebag, all hell broke out,” he said. “They were ratting on each other, they were running for the hills.”
“This was not part of the deal,” he said. “I was gonna run for president, and if I won I was gonna do a great job. … I didn’t know that I was gonna run and then when I got in I was gonna have to run again and again and again, every week.”
But Trump maintained that he had no regrets about the battle that began when he descended the golden escalator at Trump Tower in June 2015.
“I’m so glad I did it,” he said, “because we are making progress and doing things for our great people that everybody said couldn’t be done. … Our country is thriving … and it’s an honor to be with the people in this room.”