Washington | Donald Trump has taken wild victory lap before the nation’s cameras after his Senate acquittal as he slammed Nancy Pelosi as a “horrible person” and told an adoring audience of Republican allies how he survived going “through hell”.
After arriving to a standing ovation in a packed White House East Room as the presidential band played Hail to the Chief, Mr Trump launched into a lengthy tirade that traversed the “Russia hoax”, the Mueller inquiry and his “perfect” phone call with Ukraine.
“It was all bullshit,” Mr Trump said on Thursday (Friday AEDT).
“I did nothing wrong. I’ve done things wrong in my life, I will admit – not purposely, but I’ve done things wrong,”
“But this is what the end result is,” before holding up a copy of The Washington Post‘s front page with its headline: “Trump Acquitted”.
Mr Trump said it was the first good headline the newspaper had given and he was now considering having it framed.
Surrounded by his members of his cabinet and dozens of prominent Republican lawmakers including Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, Mr Trump spent most of his speech callout for praise his various supporters and allies, including his legal team.
“Today is the day to celebrate these great warriors,” he said.
The giddy celebration – punctuated by repeated rounds of laughter, cheering and clapping – came after the Senate acquitted Mr Trump on Wednesday night of abusing his office by trying to bribe a foreign leader using taxpayer’s funds into launching a politically-motivated inquiry into potential 2020 rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
In spite of his display of unbridled triumphalism, Mr Trump showed signs of being deeply stung by Republican Mitt Romney’s decision to side with Democrats and vote “guilty” on the impeachment charge.
Mr Trump hit out at Senator Romney, who cited his Mormon faith for his decision to vote for Mr Trump’s ouster, saying he was using his “religion as a crutch”.
“Never heard him use it before,” Mr Trump said, before adding that Senator Romney, the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nominee, was a “failed” candidate after running “one of the worst campaigns in the history of the presidency”.
“So things can happen when you fail so badly, running for president.”
Mr Trump also slammed Ms Pelosi by questioning her sincerity when she says she’s praying for him.
“She may pray, but she prays for the opposite,” he said. “I doubt she prays at all.”
Ms Pelosi fired back at Mr Trump’s attack and said she felt “liberated” by her decision to tear up her copy of the State of the Union address on Wednesday night.
“If feel that I have extended every possible courtesy,” she said in reference to Mr Trump’s apparent refusal to shake her hand at the outset of the union address.
She also noted that Mr Trump “looked to me like he was a little sedated” during the speech.
Ms Pelosi also slammed the awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to right-wing commentator Rush Limbaugh during the State of the Union address. As speaker of the House, the address is at the invitation of Ms Pelosi.
“Do it in your own office,” she said. “We don’t come in your office and do congressional business.”
At times rambling and filled with random asides, Mr Trump’s White House remarks included suggestions he would be impeached again and likened what he did with the Ukraine to jaywalking.
“If they find that I happen to walk across the street and maybe go against the light or something, let’s impeach him,” Mr Trump said.
“So we’ll probably have to do it again, because these people have gone stone cold crazy.
“But I’ve beaten them all my life, and I’ll beat them again if I have to. But what they’re doing is very unfair, very unfair.”
Mr Trump accused his enemies of seeking to “cook up other things”.
“They’ll go through the state of New York and other things… it’s almost like they want to destroy our country. We won’t let it happen.”