A day after his acquittal in the Senate, President Donald Trump lashed out at his political opponents Thursday in speeches both vengeful and celebratory, saying he was completely vindicated in impeachment proceedings that have bitterly divided the country.
His rivals in the Democratic Party, meanwhile, appear to be in disarray. The national party chair is calling for a review of the Iowa caucuses, that took place Monday, after long delays in the results being released. Both Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg have claimed victory in the first test of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.
On impeachment, Mr. Trump told a gathering of Republican lawmakers and administration officials at the White House Thursday afternoon that, “It was evil. It was corrupt. It was dirty cops. It was leakers and liars. This should never, ever happen to another president, ever.”
Mr. Trump’s remarks capped off a tumultuous period in Washington that has exacerbated a fierce partisan battle months ahead of the November election.
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted the President on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, voting largely along political lines. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump did not shake hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before his State of the Union Address. After its conclusion, Ms. Pelosi, in turn, ripped up a copy of the speech in front of the cameras.
At the end of a charged chapter in U.S. politics, Mr. Trump indicated that he would not let the country forget the unfairness of impeachment. At a White House prayer breakfast on Thursday morning and again in the afternoon, Mr. Trump held up copies of newspapers announcing his acquittal, describing impeachment as “a horrific incident for this country.”
He attacked Democrats, including California Congressman Adam Schiff, the lead House impeachment prosecutor, calling him “a vicious, horrible person.”
Mr. Trump singled out Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the only Republican to vote to convict Mr. Trump, referring to him as a “failed presidential candidate” who “used religion as a crutch.”
Mr. Romney had given an emotional speech citing his Mormon faith as compelling him to vote in favour of conviction on one of the charges. He has faced a sharp backlash from Republican colleagues, some of whom have called for his removal from the party.
The President also assailed Ms. Pelosi, mocking her for saying that she has prayed for him. “I doubt she prays at all,” he said.
Ms. Pelosi fired back at a news conference Thursday, pointing out that the House of Representatives had voted to impeach the President in December. “You’re impeached forever,” she said. “You are never getting rid of that scar.”
Mr. Trump repeatedly cast himself as a president under siege since the day he took office, referring to impeachment and last year’s investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian political interference as proof that Democrats were attempting to stage a political coup.
He also used his Thursday remarks as a victory lap. The President spent the better part of his speech thanking and congratulating Republican members of Congress, whom he repeatedly referred to as “warriors” and said the impeachment process has renewed momentum for the party heading into the fall election.
“They say the spirit of the Republican Party right now is stronger, I think, than it’s ever been in the history of our country,” he said.
The Senate acquittal dealt a blow to Democrats, already facing a presidential nomination race mired in controversy.
On Thursday, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez called for a review of the results in the Iowa caucuses. “Enough is enough,” Mr. Perez said on Twitter. “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.”
Mr. Trump pointed to Iowa as evidence that Democrats were unprepared to govern the country. “They can’t count some simple votes and yet they want to take over your health-care system,” he said.
The impeachment proceedings have also intensified the spotlight on former vice-president Joe Biden, coming off what appeared to be a fourth-place finish in Iowa. Mr. Trump’s efforts to compel Ukraine to investigate an energy company that employed Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter, while Mr. Biden was vice-president formed the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
In a sign that Mr. Trump’s acquittal has not closed the book on Congressional investigations, Senate Republicans said this week that they would request Hunter Biden’s travel records while he was under the protection of U.S. Secret Service.
House Democrats meanwhile said they plan to subpoena former national-security adviser John Bolton amid revelations that he plans to outline new details of the President’s Ukraine pressure campaign in memoirs to be published next month.