WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump took a victory lap on Thursday, the day after the U.S. Senate voted to acquit him on articles of impeachment.
After slamming Democrats for engaging in an unfair partisan “witch hunt” against him, Trump welcomed what he called “total acquittal” and singled out his friends in Congress who had his back along the way.
Among them: North Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Meadows, who was one of Trump’s most ardent defenders throughout the process.
“This is a guy, he’s just a very special guy,” Trump said of Meadows.
He ribbed Meadows, saying he backed another candidate before his wife convinced him to support Trump.
The president also lamented Meadows’ upcoming retirement, suggesting that the North Carolina Republican would easily win his race. “He’s a tremendously talented man,” and an “extraordinary guy,” Trump said.
The way Meadows and his GOP colleagues acted during impeachment, Trump said, “it was like their life was at stake.”
Trump’s lengthy and at times rambling speech praising his allies and assailing his rivals by name contrasted starkly with the speech given by President Bill Clinton in 1999 after he was acquitted by the Senate.
After that vote, Clinton read a four-sentence statement from the Rose Garden apologizing for his behavior. He said he was “profoundly sorry” for his actions and the “great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people,” The Washington Post reported at the time.
“This can be and this must be a time of reconciliation and renewal for America,” Clinton said.
Robin Bravender is the Washington, D.C., bureau chief for States Newsroom, a network of state-based news outlets that includes NC Policy Watch.