WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump made his first public comments Thursday afternoon just hours after he was acquitted on two articles of impeachment.
The third Senate impeachment trial of a sitting president in US history concluded Wednesday afternoon with votes finding the President not guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the impeachment articles the House charged Mr. Trump with in December.
Utah Republic Sen. Mitt Romney was the sole Republican to vote to convict the President on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, joining with all Senate Democrats in a 52-48 not guilty vote. Romney voted with Republican against the obstruction of Congress charge, which fell along straight party lines, 53-47 for acquittal.
“We’ve been going through this now for over three years. It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops, it was leakers and liars. And this should never, ever happen to another president, ever,” President Trump told an East Room packed with conservative lawmakers, media pundits, and a number of Cabinet officials Thursday.
“We’ve all been through a lot together,” he told his crowd, which also included members of his legal team and First Lady Melania Trump.
“I don’t know that other presidents would have been able to take it; some people said no, they wouldn’t have,” he said. “But I can tell you, at a minimum, you have to focus on this because it can get away very quickly. No matter who you have with you, it can get away very quickly.”
On Sen. Mitt Romney, the Utah Republican who voted to convict: “Things can happen when you fail so badly when you run for president.”
On James Comey, the FBI director he fired: “A dirty cop.”
On the Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller: “It was all bulls**t.”
It was a stream-of-consciousness victory lap that even Trump acknowledged had no real format.
“It’s not a news conference, it’s not a speech, it’s not anything,” he said of the event, which stretched more than an hour.
He singled out his allies in the room such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who helped keep Republicans in line during his Senate trial.
President Trump spoke favorably of his allies in Congress, who he singled out one-by-one for praise.
He noted Rep. Jim Jordan, who rarely wears a suit jacket, is “obviously very proud of his body.”
Rep. Steve Scalise, the Republican whip, is “more handsome” now after being “whacked” during a near-fatal shooting during a 2017 baseball practice.
And at least two — Reps. John Ratcliffe and Mike Turner — are “Perry Mason types” who he’d cast in a remake.
The formal White House event was meant to be the final word on the impeachment saga. But few expect the ordeal to fade from view.
He is expected to scale up his politicking in the coming months, starting Monday in New Hampshire on the eve of that state’s first-in-the-nation primary. Aides say President Trump is itching to add more rallies to his calendar, and one official said to expect at least one rally a week for the rest of the year. And though much depends on his other commitments, President Trump has told aides he wants to eventually return to the pace he kept during the 2016 campaign.