US President Donald Trump has accused some of those who supported his impeachment of hypocritically cloaking themselves in their faith, in a thinly veiled attack on Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Mitt Romney, the sole Republican to vote to convict him in his trial.
- Mr Trump said he didn’t like people who use their faith to justify wrongdoing
- His words were a thinly veiled attack on Ms Pelosi and Mr Romney
- Mr Romney was only Republican to vote to convict Mr Trump, who was acquitted
“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” Mr Trump, a Republican, said at an annual bipartisan prayer breakfast on Thursday (local time).
“Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that that’s not so.”
These were Mr Trump’s first public remarks since the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday (local time) acquitted him over charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress in a nearly party-line vote.
Ms Pelosi, a Catholic who launched the impeachment inquiry in September, said in December that she does not hate Mr Trump and that she prays for him.
Mr Romney, a Mormon, said in an emotional speech before the vote that his faith compelled him to vote to convict Mr Trump.
As Mr Trump arrived at the annual gathering of politicians and faith leaders, typically one of the few harmonious events in the nation’s deeply divided capital, he held up two newspapers that mentioned his acquittal.
He did not greet Ms Pelosi, who sat with him on the stage. When Ms Pelosi spoke, he scowled, folded his arms and turned away.
It was the second display of animosity between the two leaders in less than 48 hours.
During Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, Mr Trump refused to shake Ms Pelosi’s hand and the House of Representatives’ top Democrat ripped up a copy of his speech just behind him as the cameras rolled.
Ms Pelosi later said she ripped up the copy of the speech because it was full of lies.
Mr Trump’s remarks came ahead of a planned “victory speech” later today.
Mr Trump said he had been “put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people”.
“They have done everything possible to destroy us, and by so doing, very badly hurt our nation,” he said.
He praised “courageous Republicans” for having the “wisdom, fortitude and strength” to “do what everyone knows is right”.
Mr Trump said he didn’t know if he agreed with a speech from Arthur Brooks, author of Love Your Enemies: How Decent People can Save America from the Culture of Contempt.
“When they impeach you for nothing, then you’re supposed to like them? It’s not easy, folks,” he said.
Mr Trump also received a long round of applause for saying “we’re upholding the sanctity of life”, adding that “you better get out there and vote”.
After the event, Ms Pelosi told reporters she prays hard for Mr Trump because he is so “off the track”.
Ms Pelosi said Mr Trump’s comments were inappropriate, especially at a prayer breakfast.
“He’s talking about things he knows little about — faith and prayer,” she told a news conference.
Trump makes ‘victory speech’ at White House
Mr Trump, speaking later to supporters at the White House, described the impeachment proceedings as “very unfair” and doubted other presidents would have been able to handle it.
“It was evil. It was corrupt, it was dirty cops, it was leakers and liars,” he said.
“Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person … I doubt she prays at all,” he said.
“These are vicious people. They stick together like glue.”
“You could have been George Washington, you could have won the war and they’ll say ‘let’s get him out of office’ …They’re vicious as hell.”