The Fox News hits, pressers and tweet-storms from those Republicans who insisted, point blank, that the President did nothing worthy of impeachment and conviction paid off Thursday as they collected their shoutouts from a smug and victorious Donald Trump.
Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Trump delivered an extremely lengthy and off-the-cuff speech peppered with compliments for the “warriors” who never left his side during the “phony, rotten” impeachment process.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow: For the leaders of his impeachment defense team, Trump shared how they assured him that “you have nothing to worry about. The facts are on your side,” before launching into an attack on House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who the President called a “failed screenwriter.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC): The senator got kudos for being the “first one to call” and saying “sir, I read the transcript. You did nothing wrong.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): Trump spent his section on the majority leader capturing his enigmatic nature, as the President said he’s usually “good at reading people” but that McConnell is a “tough guy to read.”
Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and John Barrasso (R-WY): “When I need to know about health insurance and preexisting conditions and individual mandates, I call Bill or I call Barrasso,” Trump said. “Those two guys know more than anybody.”
Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN): Braun got perhaps the greatest compliment Trump can give. “He’s a little bit like me,” Trump said. “We have a couple of them. Very successful guy in business and he said, ‘what the hell? I’ll run for the Senate from Indiana.’ And he ran, and I saw him on television destroying his opponent in a debate. I said, ‘this guy could win,’ and I got behind him.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA): Trump expressed appreciation for the dulcet tones of the senator that made former FBI director James Comey “choke.” “He’s got this voice that scares people,” Trump said.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO): Trump spent most of his Hawley section making fun of former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who lost in 2018.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): Similarly, Trump praised the senior senator from Utah by smearing the junior one. “A man who is brilliant and who actually was deceived to an extent, comes from a great state, Utah, where my poll numbers have gone through the roof, and one of the senator’s poll numbers, not this one, went down big,” Trump said.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA): Trump approvingly noted that she was “downright nasty and mean about the unfairness to the President,” employing the third person perspective to reference himself, as he often does.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): Trump pledged McCarthy is “gonna be speaker of House” because of the political toll the impeachment process will take.
Reps. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) and Jim Banks (R-IN): The two lawmakers got brief “great job” type head nods.
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ): Trump spent most of his Biggs comments praising Arizona instead, where they’re “putting up walls and stopping illegal immigrants from coming in,” he said. “There’s a guy, he’s tough.”
Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA): Trump so loves his “unbelievable friend” that he expressed his conviction that Loeffler is “going to end up liking him a lot.” As he is running against her for her Senate seat, that particular friendship seems unlikely. Trump gave little indication which of the two he’ll ultimately get behind, saying obliquely that “Something is going to happen that’s going to be very good, I don’t know. I haven’t figured it out yet.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL): Trump captured Schrödinger’s congressman briefly. “Sometimes controversial but actually not controversial, he’s solid as a rock,” the President said.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): Trump focused on Jordan’s physique rather than his aggressive defensive style. “When I first got to know Jim Jordan, I said, ‘Huh. He never wears a jacket. What the hell is going on? He’s obviously very proud of his body,'” he said. “Those ears, there’s something going on there,” he added, before discussing Jordan’s old wrestling prowess.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ): Trump described an unorthodox method of picking which Republican to back in her race. “I like the name Lesko,” he said. “That’s why I picked it.”
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC): Trump said that he hasn’t forgotten when Meadows backed a different horse initially in 2016, and that another member of the Meadows household thus had his greater appreciation. “His wife I actually like better to be honest,” Trump half-joked.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R): Trump relayed the effect his endorsement had on DeSantis’ race. “You endorsed him and it was like a nuclear bomb went off,” he recalled being told.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA): “He goes down into dungeons and basements,” Trump said, cryptically. “He’ll find any document,” he added, describing Johnson’s ability to find damning material on his opponents and evidence in support of Trump.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA): The President continued with his basement theme. “I didn’t even know him,” he said. “I just heard there was this congressman who kept going into a basement, into files.”
Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA): Trump was succinct. “Good job over there; I just saw your numbers.”
Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX): With Ratcliffe, Trump again got hung up on appearances. ‘If we’re doing a remake of ‘Perry Mason,’ a man I get, there is nobody in Hollywood like this. John Ratcliffe,” he said to applause.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA): Scalise’s physical appearance was less to Trump’s taste, though he made the bizarre statement that after the congressman “set a record for blood loss,” Scalise now “looks better,” since he wasn’t “that good looking” before he got shot. Trump also recalled that Scalise’s wife was inconsolable at the hospital, though “most wives wouldn’t give a damn.”
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY): One of team Trump’s newer recruits, who spearheaded some parts of the House impeachment inquiry, got her time in the sun. “I was up campaigning for her and helping her and I thought, she looks good, she looks like good talent,” Trump said. “But I did not realize when she opens that mouth, you were killing them, Elise.”
Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH): “Another Perry Mason type,” per Trump.
Reps. Brad Wenstrop (R-OH) and Lee Zeldin (R-NY): The two congressmen got a “great, great” and “how good are you?” respectively.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): Trump’s compliments for the omnipresent supporter may cost a staffer his job. “Whoever the hell made this list, I got to get rid of them, because if I wouldn’t have announced Louie, it might have been the end of the presidency,” Trump joked.
Chairman of the American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp: In his finale, over an hour after he began, Trump thanked Schlapp for being the one who recognized his speech-making talent and convinced him to run for president in the first place.