As the U.S. House of Representatives voted for President Trump’s impeachment Wednesday night in the nation’s capital, Trump took the stage for a rally in Battle Creek, Mich., setting up a split-screen spectacle unlike any other in American history.
“It doesn't really feel like we're being impeached,” Trump said as the House began to vote on Article 1, the abuse of power resolution.
As the votes crossed the threshold of 216 for a majority — there are four vacant seats in the House — Trump was boasting about the amount of money his administration has spent on the military, including his commitment to start Space Force, a sixth branch of the armed forces.
By the time the second article, concerning obstruction of Congress, had been passed, Trump was mocking Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., using the derisive nickname “Pocahontas.”
Trump’s impeachment was sparked by a whistleblower complaint over his attempt to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter and to led credence to a pet Republican theory that Ukraine had interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Vice President Mike Pence, warming up the crowd in a district represented by Rep. Justin Amash, who bolted the Republican Party earlier in the year to become an independent and voted in support of the two articles of impeachment, said Trump would wait to watch the House vote before speaking.
“The president is going to be out in just a few minutes,” Pence said as he introduced Trump. “He wanted to see that strong Republican vote in the House tonight.”
But the man who had just become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached started his speech in a low-key vein with a familiar riff on how he has restored the practice of Americans wishing each other “Merry Christmas.” As he launched into praise of the USMCA trade deal, a heckler interrupted his speech.
“Get her out of here!” he said in response to the protester, adding, “There’s one disgusting person who made a horrible gesture with the wrong finger.”
Trump then told the security team that they “have to get a lot tougher with those people.”
The president heralded the strong economy. “I have the greatest economy in the history of this country, and nobody talks about it,” Trump said, without citing evidence.
The president boasted of the size of the crowds at his rallies and made sure to brag about a new poll showing him ahead of the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination.
“Did you see the new polls from USA Today? I’m killing everybody, and they hate me. USA Today hates me,” Trump said of the paper whose editorial board called for his impeachment.
Trump turned back to impeachment, late in his rally, saying it was a “political suicide march” for Democrats.
“They’ve been trying to impeach me from day one,” Trump said.
All in all, it was a somewhat muted performance from Trump, who said that the Democrats sought to overturn “the results of an election.”
Trump said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats had branded themselves with an “eternal mark of shame,” for impeaching him, then pivoted to the ratings success of his former reality TV show, “The Apprentice.”
Perhaps in a nostalgic mood, Trump quickly moved on from impeachment, and found a way to bring up Hillary Clinton, who he said was considering another presidential run, news that elicited an obligatory chant of “Lock her up!”
He mocked Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, who voted for impeachment and said her late husband, Rep. John Dingell, would have been proud of her vote.
Trump implied Dingell might be in hell.
“She says he was looking down and so pleased,” Trump said. “I don’t know, maybe he’s looking up. I don’t know.”
As Trump continued speaking at what would prove his longest rally since being elected, Dingell responded to the jab at her husband.
Mr. President, let’s set politics aside. My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder.— Rep. Debbie Dingell (@RepDebDingell) December 19, 2019
Along the way, Trump was informed of the vote total on the second article of impeachment.
“So we got every single Republican voted for us,” Trump said, as if he had won a victory. “We didn’t lose one Republican vote and three Democrats voted for us.”
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