Partisan impeachment a political suicide march for Democratic Party, says Trump

US President Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, on Wednesday, which took place as the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. Mr Mark Kampf from Pahrump, Nevada, joining other Trump supporters outside the Capi
US President Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, on Wednesday, which took place as the House of Representatives voted to impeach him.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
US President Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, on Wednesday, which took place as the House of Representatives voted to impeach him. Mr Mark Kampf from Pahrump, Nevada, joining other Trump supporters outside the Capi
Mr Mark Kampf from Pahrump, Nevada, joining other Trump supporters outside the Capitol Building in Washington.PHOTO: NYTIMES

BATTLE CREEK (Michigan) • United States President Donald Trump railed against a Democratic Party "consumed with hatred" after he was impeached for abuse of power and obstructing Congress.

"While we're creating jobs and fighting for Michigan, the radical left in Congress is consumed with envy and hatred and rage. You see what's going on," the Republican leader seethed at a campaign rally in the state on Wednesday. "These people are crazy."

Mr Trump said the impeachment would be a "mark of shame" for Democrats and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and will cost them in the 2020 election.

"This lawless, partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democrat Party," Mr Trump said. "They're the ones who should be impeached, every one of them."

He added that the Democratic Party, which controls the House, where the votes took place, was "trying to nullify the ballots of tens of millions of patriotic Americans".

Just minutes before being impeached, Mr Trump took the stage as House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff - one of his Democratic tormentors and targets throughout the process - was finishing up his own speech criticising the President's conduct that led the nation to this historic brink.

As Mr Trump began speaking, the House began voting - a striking and surreal split screen for a President who had journeyed 600km from the Capitol but was unable to escape impeachment and the imprint it will leave on his legacy.

"By the way, it doesn't really feel like we're being impeached," Mr Trump said, mere moments into his speech, claiming he did "nothing wrong" and touting the support he has in the Republican Party.

The tableau came after a full day of House debate over the evening vote to impeach the President, who hunkered down in the White House residence on Wednesday with no public events on his schedule, save the rally - but who weighed in on Twitter no fewer than 49 times.

A rage-filled letter that Mr Trump sent to Ms Pelosi on Tuesday, however, offered an epistolary preview of what Mr Trump delivered in performative fashion onstage in Michigan on Wednesday night.

The six-page missive contained more than a dozen false and misleading claims, decrying impeachment as "egregious", "terrible" and "illegal", and underscored the starkly personal lens through which Mr Trump views the inquiry.

A White House official noted that Mr Trump had managed to dominate news coverage with his letter, amplifying the defiant posture he has maintained throughout the process.

"I don't think the tone was new," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the matter publicly. "The letterhead was new but the tone was not."

Other Republicans viewed the letter as not especially productive, but as part of the "normalised crazy" even allies have now come to expect from Mr Trump, said one Republican Senate aide.

 
 
 
 

Nevertheless, the outcome of the political struggle is largely preordained: House Democrats voted to impeach Mr Trump on Wednesday night, but the Republican-controlled Senate will probably vote to acquit him early next year.

Those in Mr Trump's orbit said the President took solace in the display of Republican unity and in regular briefings from his campaign team, who counselled optimism.

The team repeatedly showed Mr Trump their impeachment polling figures and reassured him that, at least in the short term, the process has ignited fund-raising, further solidified his core supporters and even helped boost him slightly in some key battleground states, a senior campaign official said.

Perhaps it was not surprising that the impeachment of Mr Trump - who said on Tuesday that he bore "zero" responsibility for his predicament - would ultimately play out not just on separate screens, but across almost entirely separate realities.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2019, with the headline 'TRUMP: Partisan impeachment a political suicide march for Democratic Party'. Print Edition | Subscribe