BATTLE CREEK — In his first rally since being officially impeached, President Donald Trump railed against the proceedings and the news media during a two-hour speech at a Christmas-themed campaign event in Battle Creek, Mich. on Wednesday.
Taking the stage as the House of Representatives voted on two articles of impeachment against him, Trump declared that the impeachment proceedings threatened American democracy and returned to the subject throughout the night. He attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Democratic members of Congress.
About 20 minutes into Trump’s speech, the House approved the first article of impeachment against him. Shortly after, the House approved the second article, making Trump the third U.S. president to be impeached by the House in the country’s history.
“Through their depraved actions today, crazy Nancy Pelosi’s House Democrats have branded themselves with an eternal mark of shame,” Trump said. “And it really is, it’s a disgrace. Democrat lawmakers do not believe you have the right to select your own president.”
Speaking to a capacity crowd at Kellogg Arena, Vice President Mike Pence claimed that Democrats were only moving forward with impeachment because they saw no other means of defeating Republicans in 2020.
“You know the truth,” Pence said. “They’re trying to impeach this president because they know they can’t defeat this president.”
Following up on a Dec. 14 tweet criticizing Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, Trump mocked her late husband during his speech in Battle Creek, indicating that John Dingell, the longest-ever serving member of Congress in American history, was in hell.
Trump said Debbie Dingell gave him the “most profuse thank you that you could ever get” after he ordered the flags at the White House to be lowered to half-staff following John Dingell’s death in February at age 92.
“I gave him everything,” Trump said. “That’s okay. I don’t want anything. I don’t need anything for anything. She calls me up, ‘It’s the nicest thing that’s ever happened. Thank you so much. John would be so thrilled, he’s looking down, he’d be so thrilled. Thank you so much, sir.’ I said, ‘That’s okay, don’t worry about it.’”
Trump then added, “Maybe he’s looking up, I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe, but let’s assume he’s looking down.”
Debbie Dingell, who voted in favor of impeaching Trump, issued a response on Twitter on Wednesday night shortly before the president’s speech ended. She urged him to abstain from personal attacks, noting that this would be her first time celebrating the holidays since John Dingell’s passing.
“Mr. President, let’s set politics aside,” Dingell wrote. “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.”
LSA junior Blaine Thompson, a registered Republican, discussed how he appreciated Trump taking the time to visit Michigan and voice the concerns of conservatives throughout the state.
“I’m grateful that the president isn’t forgetting about Michigan,” Thompson said. “We have plenty of supporters here that have been neglected by candidates in the past. I’m excited to see that we can still hear different voices from both sides of the aisle.”
In a statement, the University’s chapter of College Democrats Chair Grace Hermann and Communications Director Camille Mancuso, both Public Policy juniors, said they supported Dingell’s vote in favor of impeachment.
“Tonight, our Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and the united House delegation in Michigan upheld the values of our country, our democracy, and our Constitution by holding the President accountable for violating his oath of office,” Mancuso and Hermann wrote. “It’s time for the Senate to put partisanship aside and do what’s best for our country.”
Trump attacked the “fake news” media repeatedly over the course of the rally, lambasting the industry for propagating what he called misinformation and biased coverage. Trump specifically called out outlets including CNN and NBC.
“They think the Washington swamp should be able to veto the results of an election,” Trump said.
Several prominent Michigan Republicans spoke at the rally prior to Trump’s speech. Michigan Speaker of the House Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, criticized Democratic politicians for what he said were efforts to undermine the president.
“We, unfortunately, have Democrats in Washington who would rather see our president fail than our country succeed,” Chatfield said.
Individuals hailing from all corners of the state descended on Battle Creek for the event. David Keith, a resident of central Michigan, said he was attracted to Trump’s patriotism.
“He loves the country, and I love the country, and everything he’s done so far is spot on,” Keith said. “How could you not support it?”
Edward Kind from Battle Creek, Mich. explained that his support for the president stemmed from Trump’s authenticity.
“He’s a real guy,” Keith said. “He’s not fake, not a politician. (It’s) his authenticity, the ability to get down and talk to anybody.”
Flanked by Christmas trees on both sides with “Make America Great Again” hats rather than stars, Laura Cox, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, posed a question to the audience.
“What can we do for the president this Christmas? Maybe four more years,” Cox said to cheers.