“House Democrats are trying to nullify the election ballots”, a sweating, red-faced Donald Trump declared, at a rally in Battle Creek, Michigan, on Wednesday night.
His speech to supporters was clearly timed to coincide with the impeachment vote. If the president was aiming for theatrics, he hit the mark.
The juxtaposition between the raucous rally and the tallying of the votes on Capitol Hill made for a truly incredible split screen. Trump was impeached on abuse of power while regaling the audience with one of his favorite stories – the tall tale of invisible stealth fighters.
When Nancy Pelosi dropped the gavel on article one, a smattering of cheers could be heard from Democrats.
The Speaker shot a sideways glance and menaced them with a curt wave of her hand. They immediately fell silent.
Minutes later, Trump was impeached on obstruction.
“I’m not worried”, he said. “Democrats have cheapened the process”.
He’s probably right not to be worried. Or at least not about being convicted in the Senate. Mitch McConnell this week made it abundantly clear that his acquittal is a foregone conclusion, just as his impeachment was in the House.
“We have some great guys in the Senate and they’re going to do the right thing”, he assured the crowd in Michigan.
Of course, Trump is a man who cannot suffer even the smallest perceived slight, and he’ll now have yet another asterisk next to his name in the history books. Now, the footnote will list Trump as one of only three US presidents to be impeached. On the bright side, the story of his being the subject of a counterintelligence investigation aimed at finding out if he was an agent of the Kremlin will be pushed down the page a bit.
That said, Trump feeds on controversy, and has variously insisted that impeachment will only make him (and Republicans) stronger. He reiterated that on Wednesday evening. “So we have every single Republican vote for us, wow”, he shouted.
Trump then called the proceedings a “political suicide march” for Democrats, who the president says have now been “branded with a mark of shame”. Hopefully, he won’t make them take any literal “suicide marches” during the hypothetical fifth term he’s suggested he might one day serve once the Constitution he spends each and every day flouting is amended.
He also told supporters on Wednesday that this impeachment was based on “dishonesty and illegality”.
At least he and Nancy Pelosi agree on that.