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President Trump says he suffered 'terrible ordeal' in impeachment

 Trump says opponents did 'everything possible to destroy us'



US President Donald Trump lashes out at rival Democrats in a lengthy speech reveling in his impeachment acquittal and raging at the investigations that have overshadowed his administration.

He says his opponents are “vicious and mean” and that he has been “through hell” in the impeachment process.

It was “not a news conference, not a speech, it’s not anything,” Trump says, speaking at the White House. “It’s a celebration.”

US President Donald Trump lashes out at rival Democrats in a lengthy speech reveling in his impeachment acquittal and raging at the investigations that have overshadowed his administration.

He says his opponents are “vicious and mean” and that he has been “through hell” in the impeachment process.

It was “not a news conference, not a speech, it’s not anything,” Trump says, speaking at the White House. “It’s a celebration.” AFP

Trump celebrated his acquittal on impeachment charges with a speech that drew on White House pomp to underscore the fact that he remained in office.

After walking down a red carpet to a standing ovation from scores of Republicans, administration officials and conservative media figures in the White House, Trump re-aired old grievances and accused Democrats of staging a "corrupt" effort to undermine his presidency. RTE reported.

"I've done things wrong in my life, I will admit... but this is what the end result is," Trump said, holding up a copy of the Washington Post with the headline "Trump acquitted".

The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday voted to acquit Trump on charges brought by the Democratic-led House of Representatives.

The acquittal was Trump's biggest victory yet over his Democratic enemies in Congress, who attacked Senate Republicans for refusing to call witnesses or seek new evidence at the trial.

Earlier on Thursday, Trump, who has strong support from evangelical Christians and conservative Catholics, criticised some of his opponents for invoking their religious faith during the impeachment battle. Trump did not mention anyone by name.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Catholic who launched the impeachment inquiry in September, said in December that she does not hate Trump and that she prays for him. Republican Senator Mitt Romney, a Mormon, cited his religious faith when he voted to convict Trump on a charge of abuse of power on Wednesday.

Romney was the only Republican to vote for conviction. No Democrat voted to acquit.

"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 told the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

He avoided greeting Pelosi, who sat steps away on the other side of the platform. 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, she said: "That would be up to him. It certainly hasn't changed in terms of us."

Senate Republicans voted to acquit Trump of abuse of power for pressing Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden, a contender to be the Democratic nominee in November's presidential election, and of obstructing a congressional investigation of the matter.

Democrats were uncertain about their next steps in investigating Trump. There are several pending court cases related to Democratic efforts to get more information from Trump, and Pelosi issued a statement saying the House would protect the Constitution "both in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion".

But Democrats would not say whether they would subpoena John Bolton, Trump's former national security adviser, to testify to House committees. Senate Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to subpoena Bolton to testify during the trial.

Democrats have expressed concern an acquittal would encourage a president who already challenges political norms, painting him as a threat to US democracy and a demagogue who has acted lawlessly. 

Eleven  Democrats are vying for the right to challenge Trump in November, but Trump heads into the campaign with the advantages of a powerful fundraising machine and near universal support from Republicans.

“It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops, it was leakers and liars,” Trump said, claiming he had been targeted since the day he announced his candidacy in the summer of 2015.

House Speaker “Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person,” Trump said, calling both Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff “vicious.”

“Had I not fired [former FBI director] James Comey, who was a disaster by the way, it’s possible I wouldn’t even be standing here right now,” he added. Comey’s firing in the spring of 2017 triggered the Justice Department’s appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.

“It was all bullshit,” Trump said. “It was hell.”

“As everybody knows, my family, our great country and your president have been through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people,” Trump said. “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.”

Back at the White House, Trump said, “I had Pelosi sitting four seats away, and I said things a lot of people probably wouldn’t have said. but I said them, I meant every word.”

Trump’s speech, with its long tangents, frequent applause breaks and scathing attacks on his political opponents, resembled a campaign rally as much as it did an official presidential address from the White House.

“This is sort of a day of celebration, because we went through hell,” Trump said after spending more than 20 minutes heaping praise on his biggest Republican defenders in Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Rep. Devin Nunes of California and Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York.

Before he left the podium, Trump gave members of his supportive audience the opportunity to stand up and make a statement.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., took him up on the offer, declaring, “We’ve got your back.”

As a final gesture, the president apologized to his family members for having been embroiled in the impeachment process. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and first lady Melania Trump then walked up and embraced Trump at the lectern.

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