President Trump speaks after impeachment acquittal
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:
President Trump said he meant every word of his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier today.
Speaking about his impeachment acquittal at the White House, Trump brought up how others might not have brought up what he brought up in front of the religious group and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“We did a prayer breakfast this morning. And I thought that was really good. In fact, that was so good this might wipe this out. But by the end, by the time we finish, this will wipe that one out — those statements,” Trump said.
He continued: “I had Nancy Pelosi sitting four seats away and I’m saying things that a lot of people wouldn’t’ve said. But I meant it. I meant every word.”
Trump brought up his impeachment and the state of the economy during the breakfast, also criticizing Pelosi and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. Pelosi said Trump’s comments at the breakfast were inappropriate.
See some of Trump's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast:
President Trump attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff and other Democrats, calling them "vicious as hell."
"These people are vicious," Trump said. "Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person. Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person. And she wanted to impeach a long time ago."
Trump claimed Pelosi "doesn't pray" just hours after they both attended the National Prayer Breakfast.
"When she said, 'I pray for the President. I pray for the—.' She doesn't pray. She may pray but she prays for the opposite. But I doubt she prays at all," Trump said.
Throughout the impeachment inquiry and trial, Pelosi has said she prays for Trump.
At a December news conference, when asked if she hates Trump, she cited her faith as she lashed out the reporter who asked about it. "As a Catholic, I resent your using the word 'hate' in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone." she said.
Today Trump said that while "vicious," the Democrats are united.
"These are vicious people," he said. "They stick together. Historically, I'm not talking now. They stick together like glue ... and they stuck together and they're vicious as hell."
Trump lashes out at Democrats:
In his comments at the White House celebrating his impeachment acquittal, President Trump mentioned what he often refers to as the “insurance policy.”
“I wrote this down because that was where a thing called the insurance policy to me, when I saw the insurance policy, and that was done long before the election, that was done when they thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win," he said.
Facts First: Trump is repeating one of his favorite conspiracy theories, which claims that hostile forces inside the FBI hatched a plan to stop him from winning the election. The theory doesn't make much sense. The participants, who have been publicly disgraced by their anti-Trump text messages and their extramarital affair, have offered a more reasonable explanation.
The two former FBI officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, mentioned an "insurance policy" in text messages they exchanged in August 2016 about early efforts to investigate Trump's campaign aides. Their message said, in part: "There's no way he gets elected — but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40."
Strzok tried to explain the context in a 2018 public hearing: The FBI was getting information about links between Trump aides and Russians. But Trump was far behind Clinton in the polls, and FBI officials were trying to decide how aggressively to follow the Russia leads. Strzok said his view was that "we need to do our job" so the threats would be assessed if Trump won.
"While it isn't likely according to all the pollsters and everybody that candidate Trump is going to be elected, we need to make sure we are protecting America," Strzok testified, offering similar reasoning that Page gave during her private depositions with congressional investigators.
Strzok was fired from the FBI and Page resigned. The Justice Department's internal watchdog was harshly critical of their anti-Trump texts and said it "cast a cloud" over the investigation, though the internal review did not find any evidence that their political opinions affected their decisions regarding the Clinton email investigation.
President Trump praised Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying the Kentucky Republican was on his side from the beginning of the impeachment inquiry.
"Mitch, he stayed there right from the very beginning. He never changed. And Mitch McConnell, I want to tell you, you did a fantastic job," Trump said as the room applauded.
"This guy is great, and I appreciate it, Mitch," Trump added. "Mitch, I wanted to thank you very much. Incredible."
McConnell had been in close coordination with the White House throughout the impeachment inquiry and trial.
Watch Trump thank McConnell:
President Trump emerged vindictive and angry at a noontime event meant to mark his impeachment acquittal.
"It was evil, it was corrupt, it was dirty cops, it was leaks and liars," Trump told an East Room packed with conservative lawmakers, media pundits, and a number of Cabinet officials.
"This should never happen to another president, ever," Trump said from his podium, calling the impeachment saga and previous investigations a "witch hunt."
"We’ve all been through a lot together," he told his crowd, which also included members of his legal team and the first lady, Melania Trump.