President Trump speaks after impeachment acquittal
House Republicans from Utah today downplayed the impact that GOP Sen. Mitt Romney's vote in the impeachment trial would have on his standing within the state.
"We shouldn't kick someone out who disagrees with us — even as important as this," said Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican. "We want to embrace people."
Asked about the impact Romney's vote could have on his reelection hopes in Utah, Stewart said "that's four years from now."
"It's an important vote, it's a vote i think people will remember," Stewart said. "But I don't think people are going to be talking about his vote for impeachment four years from now. ... I don't think it's the only thing they're going to be considering at that point. I don't think it's going to be the first thing they'll consider."
Stewart added: "There's a lot of anger there but I think this too shall pass."
Rep. John Curtis of Utah concurred with that assessment.
Asked about President Trump apparently questioning GOP Sen. Mitt Romney's faith at the National Prayer Breakfast this morning, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said, "I never heard the President use the word Romney at the prayer breakfast."
Asked if he really didn't believe he was going after Romney, McCarthy said, "I don't know, but I never heard him say Romney."
Pressed further, McCarthy said: "I heard what he said at the White House, it was about an individual who voted against him, ran for president, didn't win, I mean, that's his vote. One thing, look, I would say today, the President's acquitted. I would hope that this politically driven nightmare is over. If there's anything the nation should learn, we should never go through this again. We've watched — this is really what Alexander Hamilton warned us all about."
"I don't think Romney's effective in any shape or form," he said.
Some background: At the National Prayer Breakfast this morning, Trump took a veiled shot at Romney for his vote. One day after Romney cited his faith as a factor in casting his impeachment vote, Trump said: “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.”
Then at the White House, Trump said: "You have some who used religion as a crutch. … Today — never heard him use it before. But today, you know, it’s one of those things. But you know, it’s a failed presidential candidate. So things can happen when you fail so badly running for president."
President Trump will do it again, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said today at a news conference.
Schumer's remarks come after Trump addressed the nation giving a fiery speech about his impeachment acquittal.
“Donald Trump just spoke for an hour and a half claiming he did nothing wrong. Then the question looms Mr. President, President Trump if you did nothing wrong why did you prevent any witness and any document from being allowed at the trial? If you’re innocent you’d be happy to have witnesses who were at the scene, documents that are evidence of what happened at the scene come forward,” Schumer said.
Schumer went on to say the President is on a "self-righteous horse," and this is the largest cover-up since Watergate.
“If it’s a sham trial with not a witness or a document, then acquittal means nothing,” he said.
President Trump, speaking from the White House, thanked his family "for sticking through it."
"This was not part of the deal," he said.
Trump called up his daughter, Ivanka, and the first lady, Melania Trump, to the podium and hugged them both.
"I want to apologize to my family for having them have to go through a phony, rotten deal by some very evil and sick people," he said.
Watch the moment:
President Trump claimed that the changes Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman requested to the transcript of his July 25 call with Ukraine's president were indeed made, therefore the transcript was "perfectly accurate."
"Lt. Colonel Vindman and his twin brother, right we had some people that, really amazing, but we did everything. We said, what was wrong with it? They said, they didn't add this word or that word. Didn't. I said, add it. They're probably wrong, but add it. So now everybody agrees that they were perfectly accurate," he said.
Facts First: In fact, Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, testified in the House impeachment inquiry that two “substantive” changes he suggested to the rough transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were not made. As we have noted before, the document Trump released explicitly says on its first page that it is “not a verbatim transcript.”
You can read a longer fact check here.
Watch part of Vindman's testimony about the Ukraine call:
President Trump falsely claimed that, in an exchange with Sen. Chuck Grassley at a committee meeting, James Comey admitted to being a leaker.
Facts First: Trump’s claim was the opposite of the truth. Comey denied being a leaker in that meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2017.
During the hearing, Grassley said, “It is frustrating when the FBI refuses to answer this committee’s questions, but leaks relevant information to the media. In other words, they don’t talk to us, but somebody talks to the media. Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?”
Comey responded, “Never.”
Here's the rest of the exchange:
Grassley: “Question two, relatively related: have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?”
Grassley: “Has any classified information relating to President Trump or his association — associates been declassified and shared with the media?”
Comey: “Not to my knowledge.”
Clarification: The headline of this post has been updated to make clear that is about what Comey said to Grassley.
Speaking today from the White House, President Trump said "it helped when we won 197-0."
Facts First: Trump appears to be referring to the fact that no Republican voted in favor of impeachment in the House. In fact, he decisively lost a key process vote and then the two votes to actually impeach him.
The Democratic-controlled House voted 232-196 in October in favor of the Democrats’ proposed rules for the impeachment inquiry.
The House voted 230-197 and 229-198 in December on the two articles of impeachment.
That is possibly the basis of Trump’s “197” figure in this quote, but the claim that “we won 197 to nothing” remains nonsensical.
President Trump has suggested many times that the government started investigating him when he announced his campaign in June 2015, in order to prevent him from winning the presidency. He has repeatedly referred to the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt” as well.
“We had the witch hunt,” Trump said today. “It started from the day we came down the elevator, myself and our future first lady.”
Facts First: This is a conspiracy theory. Trump’s campaign did fall under investigation, but it wasn’t until the summer 2016, and there’s no proof that it was done to stop his presidency. In fact, the Justice Department watchdog said the investigation was opened without bias.
The FBI opened the Russia investigation in July 2016 after receiving intelligence from a friendly country that a Trump campaign associate had advance knowledge of Russian hacking. The investigation eventually morphed into the special counsel probe led by Robert Mueller.
In a sweeping report released last year, the Justice Department watchdog concluded that the FBI officials who opened the Russia investigation didn’t do it out of bias. While the watchdog found some senior FBI officials disliked Trump, the internal review determined that the key decisions weren’t influenced by bias, and that there were legitimate reasons to open the investigation into potential collusion.
President Trump suggested GOP Sen. Mitt Romney “used religion as a crutch” when voting in the impeachment trial.
“Then you have some who used religion as a crutch. … Today — never heard him use it before. But today, you know, it’s one of those things. But you know, it’s a failed presidential candidate. So things can happen when you fail so badly running for president,” Trump said.
He told Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee to tell his constituents he’s sorry about Romney.
“Tell them I’m sorry about Mitt Romney,” he said.
More on this: Romney was the sole Republican to vote to convict the President on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, joining with all Senate Democrats in a 52-48 not guilty vote. Romney voted with Republicans against the obstruction of Congress charge, which fell along straight party lines, 53-47 for acquittal.
Trump was found not guilty of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, the impeachment articles the House charged Trump with in December.
See Romney's emotional moment about his faith before the impeachment vote: