Donald Trump opened his remarks at a campaign rally in Michigan on Wednesday evening right as members of Congress moved to make him the third US president in history to be impeached.
At the start of his rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, Trump shrugged off the historic vote taking place in Washington. “It doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached,” the president said before a roaring crowd.
“The country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong. We did nothing wrong. And we have tremendous support in the Republican party, like we’ve never had before,” he continued.
As Trump spoke, lawmakers in the House of Representatives were concluding more than eight hours of debate on two articles of impeachment, providing a stark example of the country’s divide.
The House voted 230-197 to approve the first article of impeachment, charging Trump with abuse of power. The second article, charging Trump with obstruction of Congress, was approved 229-198. Trump now faces a trial in the Republican-controlled Senate, where he is expected to be acquitted.
But in Michigan, thousands had gathered at the Kellogg Arena to watch the president speak and the mood among many attendants was almost celebratory.
Before Trump came on stage, the vice-president, Mike Pence, had told the crowds Democrats were trying to impeach Trump because they can’t beat him in 2020.
“They’re trying to run down this president because they can’t run against our record. They know they can’t stop you from giving President Donald Trump four more years in the White House.”
Trump’s rambling speech went for about two hours and covered a range of subjects, from the 2016 presidential election to dishwashers and lightbulbs to foreign policy. He also criticized lawmakers from both parties, including the Democratic Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer; her predecessor, Rick Snyder, a Republican; the South Bend, Indiana, mayor, Pete Buttigieg; Senator Elizabeth Warren; the former FBI director James Comey, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi; and Bill and Hillary Clinton. But throughout the speech, the president repeatedly came back to the topic du jour: his impeachment.
Trump resurfaced some of his favorite lines and talking points, including that he did “nothing wrong” in his call with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which was the trigger for the articles of impeachment.
“After three years of citizen witch-hunts, hoaxes, scams, tonight the House Democrats are trying to nullify the balance of tens of millions of patriotic Americans, capped off with one of the greatest election evenings in American history,” Trump said.
At another point he said: “This lawless, partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democratic party – have you seen my polls in the last four weeks?” The crowd roared in response.
Trump also marveled when he found out about the vote tallies, with three House Democrats joining Republicans in voting against both articles of impeachment.
“So I see we got every single Republican voted for us? Whoa,” Trump said when he found out the voting tallies. He went on to say “we didn’t lose one Republican vote and – and! – three Democrats voted for us.”
The president also tried to frame himself as largely unbothered by becoming the third president in American history to be impeached.
“I’m not worried, I’m not worried because it’s always good when you don’t do anything wrong and you get impeached,” Trump said. “That may be a record that will last forever. But you know what they have done? They’ve cheapened the impeachment process. And now, now anybody that becomes president, I mean, they could have a phone call and they could be impeached.”
Trump argued that impeachment would backfire badly on Democrats.
“The House Democrats are surrendering their majority, their dignity – they look like a bunch of fools,” Trump said. “And I’ll tell you, we have a lot of new stars in the Republican party. I could read off a list of 20 names.”
Then he went back to Democrats.
“But they’re giving up their honor. They’ll receive a big backlash at the box office when you take a look. That ballot box, that ballot box on November 3rd, I think we’ll have crowds like we’ve never had,” Trump said.