‘Evil, corrupt, dirty cops, leakers, liars’: Trump blasts impeachment ‘witch hunt’
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A day after the Republican-controlled US Senate acquitted him of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress charges, President Donald Trump on Thursday launched a tirade against the impeachment process and his political opponents while praising his administration’s track record.
In his first formal response to the Senate acquittal, Trump described the impeachment process as a “very unfair situation” and described his Democratic opponents as “vicious”.
Speaking to a select audience at the White House East Room, the US president repeatedly used the term “dirty cops” to describe a string of people and parties that he believed personally targeted him, including former FBI director James Comey – who was fired by the 45th US president in 2017 – and Robert Mueller, who investigated allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections.
As Trump spoke, supporters in the East Room broke out into periodic rounds of applause. The invitees included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and several Cabinet members, including Attorney General William Barr, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and staunch House allies.
For the second time Thursday, Trump held aloft a copy of the national daily, the Washington Post, emblazoned with a banner “Trump acquitted” headline. “This is the only good headline I’ve ever had in the Washington Post,” Trump joked to laughter from the audience.
The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday voted to acquit Trump on charges brought by the Democratic-led House of Representatives, only the third time in US history that a president has been impeached.
The acquittal was Trump's biggest victory yet over his Democratic foes in Congress, who attacked Senate Republicans for refusing to call witnesses or seek new evidence at the trial.
'Inappropriate' comments at prayer event
Earlier Thursday, speaking at a prayer event that was attended by congressional leaders, including Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – who led the impeachment charge against him – Trump shattered the usual veneer of bipartisanship at the annual Washington event.
“As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people," said Trump.
“They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing very badly hurt our nation,” said Trump, displaying two newspapers, including the Washington Post, with the Senate acquittal story.
"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 that's not so," Trump said at the National Prayer Breakfast.
He avoided greeting Pelosi, who sat a few seats away on the dais.
Pelosi said later that Trump's comments were inappropriate, especially at a prayer breakfast.
"He's talking about things he knows little about – faith and prayer," she told a news conference.
Asked if House Democrats could still work with the White House following impeachment: "That would be up to him. It certainly hasn't changed in terms of us."
Democrats call for Iowa caucaus recanvass
Meanwhile the Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez on Thursday called for a recanvass of the Iowa caucuses after an array of problems delayed results from the party's first 2020 presidential nomination contest.
"Enough is enough. In light of the problems that have emerged in the implementation of the delegate selection plan and in order to assure public confidence in the results, I am calling on the Iowa Democratic Party to immediately begin a recanvass," Perez said in a Twitter post.
No winner has been declared four days after the caucuses took place in 1,600 locations throughout Iowa on Monday night. With 97 percent of precincts counted, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg, the
38-year-old former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, were leading, according to the Iowa Democratic Party.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)
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