Donald Trump's First Speech After His Impeachment Acquittal Was A Victory Lap
In an unsurprising conclusion to the Senate's impeachment trial, the Senate's GOP majority voted on Feb. 5 to acquit President Donald Trump on both of the impeachment charges against him. The next day, on Thursday, Feb. 6, Trump made his first speech after his impeachment acquittal, during which he denounced the impeachment process as "evil" and "corrupt," thanked his legal team, and essentially took a victory lap.
When Trump first took the podium ahead of his statement, he received an extensive round of applause. As is typical for Trump, the president began his remarks by slamming the impeachment proceedings as a "very unfair situation" and claiming "everybody wanted to come" see his acquittal statement.
"We had the witch hunt, it started from the day we came down the elevator," Trump said, "and it never really stopped. We've been going through this right now for three years. It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops, it was leakers and liars, and this should never happen to another president."
Trump then touted his administration's achievements, suggesting he has accomplished more in his first few years in office than prior presidents. He subsequently repeated that he did "nothing wrong" in his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, and he held up a copy of The Washington Post to show attendees the front page headline: "Trump Acquitted."
Although Trump dismissed the impeachment proceedings and former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe as "bullsh*t," he spent much of his speech giving shout-outs to the Republican lawmakers who defended him from impeachment and removal from office. Whereas Americans saw a feud between Trump and Mitch McConnell back in 2017, the president had nothing but praise for the Senate Majority Leader during his Feb. 6 statement. The president lauded McConnell for doing a "fantastic job" during Trump's impeachment trial, and for confirming nearly 200 federal judges, including two Supreme Court justices.
From there, Trump praised numerous House and Senate Republicans — including Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, North Dakota Rep. Kelly Armstrong, and California Rep. Devin Nunes — for supporting him. During his shout-out for Utah Sen. Mike Lee, Trump criticized Lee's fellow Utah senator, Mitt Romney, for voting against Trump's acquittal. And when he thanked House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Trump said he would support McCarthy's bid to replace Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.
During his speech, Trump certainly did not keep quiet about the Democrats who led the impeachment process. He described Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff as "vicious," "horrible, "evil," and "sick." He also criticized Democrats' immigration and health care policies, and suggested that his impeachment and acquittal actually boosted his poll numbers. A recent Gallup poll indicated Trump had achieved his personal best approval rating — 49% — though The Washington Post attributed that rating to a decrease in Democrats responding to polls.
Trump concluded his remarks by thanking his family for standing by him throughout the impeachment process. He apologized to his wife and children for "having them have to go through a phony, rotten deal," and he welcomed both his daughter Ivanka and first lady Melania onto the stage.
Trump celebrated his acquittal with a lengthy speech that was essentially a celebration of his own administration, but the outcome of the Senate impeachment trial was all but certain. Although Senate Democrats spent weeks trying to convince their Republican colleagues to subpoena witnesses and convict the president, the GOP's Senate majority was not inclined to remove their party's leader from the White House. Only one Republican — Romney — broke ranks with his party and voted to convict the president on the abuse of power charge. Shortly after the trial concluded, McConnell told reporters "it's time to move on," in contrast to Trump's remarks, which focused more on patting himself on the back and criticizing the Democratic Party.
"This decision has been made," McConnell said, per CBS News. "As far as I'm concerned, it's in the rearview mirror, and the consequences of it in terms of the future are up to the voters of the country to decide who they want to lead the government."
Now that Trump's impeachment trial has officially come to an end, Democrats appear to be turning their full attention to the 2020 presidential election as an alternative means of getting Trump out of office. The Democratic primary season kicked off in Iowa on Feb. 3, and will continue in New Hampshire on Feb. 11.