President Donald Trump walked on the stage in the Washington Hilton hotel ballroom Thursday and held up newspapers with the bold headlines “ACQUITTED” and “Trump acquitted.”
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted largely on party lines to acquit Trump of both counts in his impeachment trial, marking an end to the months-long impeachment effort launched by House Democrats in September. Republican Mitt Romney of Utah was the only senator to cross party lines, voting “guilty” against Trump for abusing his power.
Trump began his speech at Thursday morning’s bipartisan annual National Prayer Breakfast with a victory lap and several pointed comments that appeared to be directed at Democrats, particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was seated nearby. Before his pointed remarks, Trump said, “this morning we come together as one nation blessed to live in freedom and worship in peace.”
“I am working very hard for you, I will tell you,” Trump told the room. “And sometimes you don’t make it easy, and I certainly don’t make it easy on you.”
“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. They have done everything possible to destroy us and by so doing very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country,” Trump said. “Weeks ago and again yesterday, courageous Republican politicians and leaders had the wisdom, fortitude, and strength to do what everyone knows was right.”
“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. So many people have been hurt, and we can’t let that go on. I’ll be discussing that a little bit later at the White House,” Trump continued.
The jabs appear to be directed at both Romney and Pelosi. Romney cited his faith in explaining his vote for Trump’s removal Wednesday, and much to Trump’s ire, Pelosi has said that she prays for the president “all the time.” Trump will address the Senate’s acquittal at length in a speech at the White House at noon Thursday.
The National Prayer Breakfast has been attended by every president since Dwight Eisenhower. Put on by the secretive religious-right organization The Family, the National Prayer Breakfast is the organization’s most powerful networking event and its only public-facing event.