Trump goes after the ‘leakers and liars’ after being acquitted

President Trump held up a copy of the Washington Post in triumph at an East Room event where he had gathered his political allies in celebration of being acquitted on impeachment charges by the Republican-led Senate.  

‘It was the only good headline I’ve ever had in the Washington Post,’ Triump said, showing off a newspaper with the words ‘Trump Aquitted’ in large typeface across the front. Trump said he might even frame it. 

The president had choice words about the impeachment saga: ‘It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops,’ he said. ‘It was leakers and liars.’

He name-dropped one of the people he blamed: former FBI Director James Comey, whose May 2017 firing led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller who took over the Russian interference probe. 

‘Had I not fired James Comey – who was a disaster, by the way – it’s possible I may not have even been standing here right now,’ Trump said. 

Later in his speech, the president referred to the Russia probe as ‘all bulls***.’  

That investigation wasn’t directly related to why Trump was impeached – over a scheme to hold up around $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in order to pressure the president to announce investigations into Joe and Hunter Biden. 

The East Room was filled with the president’s Republican Congressional and political allies. Lawmakers like Doug Collins, Elise Stefanik and Matt Gaetz, who all vocally defended the president during the House impeachment investigation. GOP senators who voted to acquit him were there too, including Chuck Grassley, Mike Lee and, of course, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

The president’s impeachment legal team came in the room before Trump and was greeted with a standing ovation from the audience and shouts of ‘Bravo!’ 

Trump, too, was greeted by a crowd on its feet. 

President Trump hoisted up a copy of the Washington Post in the East Room Thursday, marveling at the paper’s good headline 

The president, showing off the 'Trump acquitted' headline, said he might even frame this copy of the Washington Post

The president, showing off the ‘Trump acquitted’ headline, said he might even frame this copy of the Washington Post 

President Trump addressed a crowd of allies at the White House Thursday after being acquitted by the U.S. Senate

President Trump addressed a crowd of allies at the White House Thursday after being acquitted by the U.S. Senate

President Trump was surrounded by his political allies at the White House Thursday as he took a victory lap on being acquitted on impeachment charges by the GOP-led Senate

President Trump was surrounded by his political allies at the White House Thursday as he took a victory lap on being acquitted on impeachment charges by the GOP-led Senate 

President Trump went around the room and complimented his political allies, while describing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as 'vicious' and 'horrible'

President Trump went around the room and complimented his political allies, while describing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as ‘vicious’ and ‘horrible’ 

IN THE AUDIENCE: Reps. Doug Collins (center) and Elise Stefanik (right) were invited to attend Thursday's White House address by President Trump. Both lawmakers defended him during the impeachement saga

IN THE AUDIENCE: Reps. Doug Collins (center) and Elise Stefanik (right) were invited to attend Thursday’s White House address by President Trump. Both lawmakers defended him during the impeachement saga 

Rep. Matt Gaetz is seen entering the Whtie House's East Room Thursday prior to President Trump addressing the nation on his impeachment acquittal

Rep. Matt Gaetz is seen entering the Whtie House’s East Room Thursday prior to President Trump addressing the nation on his impeachment acquittal 

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham (center) greets Rep. Matt Gaetz (left) in the White House's East Room on Thursday

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham (center) greets Rep. Matt Gaetz (left) in the White House’s East Room on Thursday 

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee who loudly defended President Trump during the impeachment hearings, wore a 'Quit, Mitt' button to the White House Thursday

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee who loudly defended President Trump during the impeachment hearings, wore a ‘Quit, Mitt’ button to the White House Thursday 

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway chats with White House guests before President Trump appeared in the East Room Thursday

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway chats with White House guests before President Trump appeared in the East Room Thursday 

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is photographed in the East Room before the president delivered remarks

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is photographed in the East Room before the president delivered remarks 

Republican political allies filed the White House's audience Thursday including (from left) Rep. Mark Meadows, Sen. Bill Cassidy, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Devin Nunes. Nunes is Rep. Adam Schiff's GOP counterpart in the House Intelligence Committee

Republican political allies filed the White House’s audience Thursday including (from left) Rep. Mark Meadows, Sen. Bill Cassidy, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Devin Nunes. Nunes is Rep. Adam Schiff’s GOP counterpart in the House Intelligence Committee 

First daughter and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump reacts to her father's speech in the White House's East Room Thursday

First daughter and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump reacts to her father’s speech in the White House’s East Room Thursday 

Donald Trump will call for retaliation in the wake of his impeachment acquittal and demand that 'people should pay' for their treatment of him

Donald Trump will call for retaliation in the wake of his impeachment acquittal and demand that ‘people should pay’ for their treatment of him

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham previewed the president's remarks

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham previewed the president’s remarks

Lee, a Republican senator from Utah, got some attention from the president, in part because Lee’s counterpart, Sen. Mitt Romney, had voted alongside Democrats on voting in support of one article of impeachment. 

Trump told Lee to deliver a message to the people of Utah: ‘Tell them I’m sorry about Mitt Romney.’ 

‘We can say, by far, Mike Lee is the most popular senator in the state,’ Trump said.     

Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee who also loudly backed the president during impeachment hearings, was spotted wearing a ‘quit Mitt’ button to the White House event. 

Trump went around giving shout-outs to the Republicans that supported him. 

He complimented another Judiciary Committee member, Rep. John Ratcliffe, for being straight out of Central Casting. 

‘If we’re doing a remake of Perry Mason,’ he said, nodding at Ratcliffe. ‘There’s nobody in Hollywood like this.’ 

The president also suggested that Rep. Steve Scalise became more attractive after recovering from a gun shot wound. 

‘You weren’t that good looking,’ Trump said. ‘You look good now.’

The president also talked of Scalise’s wife’s devotion to the Louisiana Republican, as Trump had met her when her husband was in the emergency room. 

‘A lot of wives wouldn’t give a damn,’ Trump remarked.  

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told a Fox News Channel audience Thursday what to expect from his remarks – that the president had previewed himself when he slammed Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Romney at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning. 

‘He is going to be honest,’ Grisham told Fox News, ‘going to speak with honesty and with humility and he and the family went through a lot. I think he’s also going to talk about just how horribly he was treated and, you know, that maybe people should pay for that.’

‘People should be held accountable,’ she added.  

The president went after Pelosi and Romney for using their faith to justify their actions in the impeachment process during his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast.

He did not mention the two by name but his meaning was clear.  

‘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’s not so. So many people have been hurt, and we can’t let that go on. I will be discussing that a little bit later at the White House,’ he said.

Romney was the lone Republican to find Trump guilty on one article of impeachment: abuse of power. He said in his remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday that it was his faith – Romney is a devout Mormon – that led him to that decision.

Pelosi, a devout Catholic, has repeatedly said she prays for the president. She was seated at the head table during Trump’s remarks and shook her head at one point during them. She pursed her lips a few times as he spoke. The speaker launched the impeachment inquiry into the president in September.

Back at the White House, Trump had no problem uttering Pelosi’s name. He called her a ‘vicious horrible person’ and said that Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and one of the Democrats’ House impeachment managers, was a ‘horrible person.’ 

‘She may pray, but she prays for the opposite,’ Trump said of the speaker.  

At the prayer breakfast, the president admitted he was having trouble liking his political enemies now that his impeachment trial is over.

‘We are grateful to the people of this room for the lovely show to religion, not one religion, but many religions. They are brave, they are brilliant, they are fighters, they like people and sometimes they hate people. I’m sorry. I apologize. I am trying to learn. Not easy. It’s not easy. When they impeach you for nothing, and you’re supposed to like them, it’s not easy, folks. I do my best,’ he said. 

Donald Trump slammed Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney for using their faith to justify their actions in the impeachment trial and inquiry

Donald Trump slammed Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney for using their faith to justify their actions in the impeachment trial and inquiry

Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat on the opposite of the head table from President Trump

Speaker Nancy Pelosi sat on the opposite of the head table from President Trump

Speaker Pelosi sat grimed during President Trump's remarks

Speaker Pelosi sat grimed during President Trump’s remarks

President Trump addressed impeachment at the top of his remarks

President Trump addressed impeachment at the top of his remarks

Trump was acquitted on both articles of impeachment by the Senate on Wednesday, bringing to a close the fourth month, contentious process that led to a new level of bitter relations between the White House and congressional Democrats. 

Harvard professor Arthur Brooks, in his key note address at the breakfast, urged those present not to hold political enemies in contempt, but to do as Jesus preached and ‘love your enemies.’

‘I don’t know if I agree with you,’ Trump said to Brooks when it was his turn to speak. And then he proceeded to launch his attacks on Pelosi and Romney.

The president addressed the impeachment inquiry at the top of his remarks and, earlier, had triumphantly held up newspaper headlines announcing his acquittal. The audience cheered his move. 

‘My family, our great country and your president has been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people. They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing, very badly hurt our nation,’ Trump said.

‘They know what they are doing is wrong but they put themselves far ahead of our great country. Weeks ago and again yesterday, courageous Republican politicians and leaders had the wisdom, fortitude, and strength to do what everyone knows was right,’ he added.

The president and the speaker were meeting for the first time since the impeachment verdict at the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday morning.

Trump walked to the head table to applause and held up the front pages of USA Today and The Washington Post with their oversized headlines proclaiming his acquittal by the Senate. 

‘Acquitted’ read USA Today. ‘Trump Acquitted’ was the Washington Post’s headline. 

Pelosi stood and clapped as President Trump entered the room. She simply looked on as he displayed the newspapers declaring him acquitted.

President Trump waved around a USA Today headline proclaiming his acquittal on impeachment

President Trump waved around a USA Today headline proclaiming his acquittal on impeachment

He also waved the Washington Post front page

He also waved the Washington Post front page

Speaker Pelosi spoke before President Trump at the breakfast

Speaker Pelosi spoke before President Trump at the breakfast

Speaker Pelosi led a prayer for the poor

Speaker Pelosi led a prayer for the poor

Both the president and the speaker were seated at the head table but on opposite sides of the podium.

They did not interact.

Trump shook hands with his side of the head table when he entered the 68th Annual National Prayer Breakfast and did not walk over to the other side of the podium, where the vice president and the speaker were seated. 

Pelosi spoke first, leading a prayer for the poor. The president head bowed during her prayer. He did not applaud when she was done. 

Vice President Mike Pence, when he arrived ahead of the president, shook hands with the speaker and sat a few chairs down from her.  

Several members of Congress and members of the president’s Cabinet attended the annual breakfast.

‘The lord works in mysterious ways. I do not think he could have picked a better day to bring us all together,’ House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said in his prayer.

The president thanked McCarthy and the breakfast hosts in his opening remarks.

Mitt Romney cited his faith as the reason for his guilty vote on Trump

Mitt Romney cited his faith as the reason for his guilty vote on Trump

Trump went after Romney in the wake of the Wednesday’s  impeachment vote. He tweeted a video accusing the Utah senator of being a ‘Democrat secret asset’ and criticized him for his failed 2008 presidential campaign.

‘Had failed presidential candidate @MittRomney devoted the same energy and anger to defeating a faltering Barack Obama as he sanctimoniously does to me, he could have won the election,’ the president tweeted. 

Romney cited his faith as one of the reasons for his guilty vote. He voted to acquit the president on the second charge: obstruction of Congress.

‘The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious. As a senator juror, I swore an oath before god to exercise impartial justice. I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before god as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the president, the leader of my own party would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced,’ Romney said. 

And the Republican senator from Utah acknowledged he expected to feel the president’s wrath for his decision.

‘I’m aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters I will be vehemently denounced. I’m sure to hear abuse from the president and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before god demanded it of me?,’ he said. 

It was also the first time Trump and Pelosi met since Tuesday’s State of the Union address when Trump refused to shake her hand at its beginning and she ripped up the text of his remarks at its conclusion.

After the president finished giving his annual address Tuesday night, Pelosi stood up and ripped the pages in half, dropping them on her desk.  

She defended her actions Tuesday night after the speech: ‘It was the courteous thing to do considering the alternatives. It was such a dirty speech.’ 

The extraordinary clash between the two started when with Trump snubbed Pelosi’s outstretched hand after he came into the House chamber. 

Trump handed Pelosi a copy of his speech when he reached the speaker’s dais – the same place she presided over his impeachment vote two months ago – but simply turned away as the Speaker took her copy of his speech, then stood in front of a chamber which echoed with cries of ‘four more years’ from Republicans – and where Democrats sat stone-faced.

Pelosi was visibly taken aback after Trump turned away from her offer. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped apart her copy of President Trump's State of the Union address after he finished speaking on Tuesday night

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped apart her copy of President Trump’s State of the Union address after he finished speaking on Tuesday night

Earlier, Trump delivered an astonishing snub to Nancy Pelosi as he started his State of the Union speech Tuesday, ignoring her as she offered him a handshake

Earlier, Trump delivered an astonishing snub to Nancy Pelosi as he started his State of the Union speech Tuesday, ignoring her as she offered him a handshake

After the Senate acquitted the president on Wednesday, Pelosi said after the vote that the president remains a ‘threat’ that the House will continue to combat through its lawsuits against the administration and with the public.

‘Sadly, because of the Republican Senate’s betrayal of the Constitution, the President remains an ongoing threat to American democracy, with his insistence that he is above the law and that he can corrupt the elections if he wants to. The House will continue to protect and defend the checks and balances in the Constitution that safeguard our Republic, both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion,’ she said in a statement.

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