President Donald Trump drew cheers and applause without saying a word at the National Prayer Breakfast.
Audience members at the Washington Hilton laughed along and applauded on Thursday as Trump entered the room and showed off headlines from USA Today and The Washington Post declaring the verdict and his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial.
The Senate on Wednesday delivered a 52-48 not guilty vote on the first article of impeachment against the president, abuse of power, and 53-47 on the obstruction of Congress charge. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats instantly slammed the vote and the GOP lawmakers who backed the president.
Pelosi was in attendance at the Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, though the president did not seem to interact with her. She did stand and applaud as he entered, according to The Hill. The California Democrat issued a blistering statement on Wednesday after the Senate vote, warning that Trump “remains an ongoing threat to American democracy.”
Trump was greeted with lengthy applause at Thursday’s breakfast where special guest Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, spoke about loving people despite disagreements with them. Trump quipped that he “loved” listening to Brooks but wasn’t sure he agreed. During his speech, Brooks had asked audience members to raise their hands if they love someone whom they disagree with politically. Trump reportedly did not raise his hand, according to NBC News.
“I’m working very hard for you, I will tell you,” the president said in a voice that seemed a bit strained.
“And sometimes you don’t make it easy and I certainly don’t make it easy on you,” he joked. “And I will continue that tradition if I might this morning.”
Trump quickly changed the tone in his opening remarks as he said he and his family have been through a “terrible ordeal.”
“My family, our great country, and your president have been put 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.”
At one point he appeared to take a veiled shot at Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the only Republican to vote guilty on the abuse of power charge against the president, and Sen. Pelosi respectively.
“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” he said.
“Nor do I like people who say ‘I pray for you’ when they know that that’s not so,” Trump continued as Pelosi sat a few yards away.
“So many people have been hurt and we can’t let that go on,” he continued. “And I’ll be discussing that a little bit later at the White House.”
Trump thanked Vice President Mike Pence, members of his Cabinet and other lawmakers who have become “friends” as he continued to speak,
“We have them all: we have allies, we have enemies,” Trump said. “Sometimes the allies are enemies but we just don’t know it.”
Trump touted his record-high approval rating of 49 percent in a Gallup poll this week as well as his administration’s accomplishments in the economy.
Near the end of his lengthy speech, Trump said people of faith sometimes “hate” people.
“When they impeach you for nothing, then you’re supposed to like them? It’s not easy folks,” he joked, adding that he was doing “my best” to try to change.
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