As members of the House voted to impeach him, President Donald J. Trump was by turns gleeful and defiant as he addressed thousands of supporters at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek. During a “Merry Christmas” rally complete with a tree adorned with a MAGA hat instead of a star or angel, Trump expressed his pleasure that some Democrats broke with their party despite a vote in favor of impeachment.
“Three Democrats went over to our side,” he said. “That’s unheard of.”
Only two Democrats Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, voted against both articles of impeachment. Van Drew is expected to switch parties to join the Republicans. A third Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, voted for one impeachment article, and Democrat Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii voted “present.”
The rally started off with Vice President Mike Pence greeting the audience, saying the president was watching the impeachment vote and was excited to be in Michigan.
The president continued to rail against impeachment efforts, saying his opponents have been plotting against him for “three years of sinister witch hunts, hoaxes, scams.”
He also took aim against some of his political opponents and critics, making references to “Crooked Hillary,” “Crazy Pocahontas” and “Crazy Nancy.” At one point the crowd did the now-familiar chant, “Lock her up” in reference to Hillary Clinton.
Trump addressed Michigan’s own Rep. Debbie Dingell and her late husband, the nation’s longest-serving Congressman, John Dingell.
“Debbie Dingell, that’s a real beauty,” he said, adding he gave the Dingell family the “A” treatment after John Dingell’s death. He claims Debbie Dingell told him, in an emotional call, that John Dingell was “thrilled” looking down from heaven. “Maybe he’s looking up,” Trump said.
Wednesday night, Rep. Debbie Dingell responded. “Mr. President, let’s set politics aside,” she said. “My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. I’m preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder.”
Trump’s remarks against his Democrat critics were met with cheers by the crowd, although one protester was removed from the arena during the rally.
“Get her out,” Trump said of the protester. “Get her out of here,” making reference to a gesture the woman made when confronted by security.
“She’ll get hell when she gets back home with mom,” he said. “There’s one disgusting person who made a horrible gesture with the wrong finger. If one of us did that, it’d be the biggest story ever.” He also criticized security for being “politically correct” when escorting her out, adding, “You’ve got to get a little stronger than that, folks.”
Trump at one point criticized the media, saying he didn’t want any of his rally attendees to leave their seats to use the bathroom, claiming the media would show the empty seats and say he couldn’t fill an arena.
Ultimately, Trump told his supporters he doesn’t fear impeachment.
“I’m not worried, I’m not worried,” he said. “They’ve been trying to impeach me from day one.”