US President Donald Trump holds up a copy of the Washington Post's front page showing news of Trump's acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial, as he delivers a statement about his acquittal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, the US, February 6 2020. Picture: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS
US President Donald Trump holds up a copy of the Washington Post's front page showing news of Trump's acquittal in his Senate impeachment trial, as he delivers a statement about his acquittal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, the US, February 6 2020. Picture: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS

Washington  — US President Donald Trump called Democrats’ impeachment efforts evil and corrupt, a day after the Senate acquitted him, lifting the cloud of impeachment from his presidency as he heads into the election year.

“It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops, it was leakers and liars,” Trump said on Thursday in an address from the White House. “This should never happen to another president ever.”

Trump lifted a copy of the Washington Post with a large headline that said “Trump Acquitted,” drawing applause from his supporters.

Trump made the remarks in the East Room to a crowd of his staunchest congressional supporters who defended the president throughout his impeachment. Senator Mitch McConnell and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy were seated in the front row beside Steve Scalise and Louie Gohmert.

The president is betting his acquittal will add momentum to his 2020 re-election campaign. Trump has expressed no remorse for his conduct at the heart of his impeachment, even though several Republican legislators called it inappropriate and one, senator Mitt Romney, voted to remove him from office for abusing the power of the presidency.

US President Donald Trump speaks about his Senate impeachment trial in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 6 2020. Picture: SAUL LOEB / AFP
US President Donald Trump speaks about his Senate impeachment trial in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 6 2020. Picture: SAUL LOEB / AFP

Trump’s defiance has appeared to energise his Republican base. His approval rating reached a high of 49% in the latest Gallup poll, with 94% of Republicans approving of his job performance.

Trump maintained Thursday he had done “nothing wrong.”

Still, a poll published Wednesday by Reuters and Ipsos found that 60% of Americans believed Trump should have been either removed from office or censured for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Just 31% said his articles of impeachment should be dismissed.

Thursday’s appearance is the president’s first extensive response to the Senate acquittal. During the trial, the president confined most of his commentary to Twitter and some campaign events. On Tuesday night, Trump delivered a triumphant State of the Union address in the House chamber, but didn’t mention impeachment.

But the partisan rift that has widened throughout the saga was evident. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who spearheaded the impeachment, tore up her printed copy of the Trump’s speech after he finished speaking.

“He shredded the truth in his speech, he is shredding the constitution in his conduct, so I shredded his ‘state of the mind’ address,” Pelosi said Thursday.

Trump has nonetheless insisted the call at the centre of the trial, in which he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open investigations that would benefit the US president, was “perfect”.

Speaking on Thursday morning at the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump said: “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.”

After the event, Pelosi said, “I pray hard for him because he is so off the track.”

Trump’s tone stands in contrast with that of former president Bill Clinton. In a February 12 1999, speech following his acquittal in the Senate, Clinton expressed “how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events and the great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people.”

Bloomberg