Trump Decries ‘Witch Hunt,’ Hints At a Political Return

(The Washington Post) -
Former President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, on Capitol Hill in Washington with some senators, Jan. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Former president Donald Trump called the historic second impeachment case against him “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country,” while promising Saturday that he would not leave the political field.

Trump’s acquittal was never in serious doubt, although seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting to convict Trump for his role in urging on the deadly Jan. 6 mob attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“It is a sad commentary on our times that one political party in America is given a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance, and persecute, blacklist, cancel and suppress all people and viewpoints with whom or which they disagree,” Trump said in a statement issued by his office.

Trump, who kept close watch on the trial from his golf resort in West Palm Beach, Fla., thanked his legal team, a group assembled days before the trial.

“This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country. No president has ever gone through anything like it,” Trump said, saying that he received nearly 75 million votes. That was more than any previous candidate, but 7 million fewer than President Biden.

“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun,” Trump said. “In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it!”

Trump’s response contained no direct personal attacks, making it tame by comparison with some of his tweets and other statements as president.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a Trump favorite for his feisty fealty and his background as a winning wrestling coach, did the gloating for him.

“Acquitted again!” Jordan tweeted after the 57-to-43 Senate vote to convict Trump on a charge of inciting the deadly mob assault on the Capitol, which failed to stop the official certification of Trump’s election loss. A two-thirds vote was needed for conviction, in which case a second vote would have been held to permanently bar Trump from holding federal office.

Jordan’s office issued his tweet as the sum of his official statement.

Eric Trump, one of Trump’s sons, had an even more succinct response on Twitter: “2-0,” he wrote.

The former president lost his own Twitter account in the aftermath of the Capitol assault. Twitter and other social media platforms cited the risk of violence after Trump tweeted encouragement to the mob.

He had also used Twitter to promote the rally behind the White House where political supporters cheered his claims of a stolen election and his assertion that then-Vice President Mike Pence was a coward for declining to try to stop official certification of the vote.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., welcomed the acquittal and attacked the case presented by House Democrats while noting that the Capitol attack “will be part of President Trump’s term in office.”

“It was never the goal of the House to find out what happened on January 6 and then assign blame. They were assigning complete and total blame to President Trump regardless,” Graham said.

Graham is expected to join Trump at the Mar-a-Lago Club later this weekend.

Trump, out of office and with no specific role in the Republican Party, is nonetheless a powerful and for some a fearsome figure. He commands a loyal following among Republicans, including a majority in many parts of the country. With the impeachment acquittal, he is now free to run again in 2024 if he chooses, or to use his political authority to reward loyalists and punish opponents.