President Trump on Thursday attacked Democratic lawmakers in personal terms and ridiculed the first two witnesses to testify publicly in the House’s impeachment inquiry as “Never Trumpers.”
In his first campaign rally since the Wednesday hearing, Trump riffed about the spectacle and insisted to a crowd of adoring supporters that he had done nothing wrong.
“The absolutely crazed lunatics, the Democrats, radical left and their media partners standing right back there are pushing the deranged impeachment witch hunt for doing nothing wrong,” Trump said during the event in Bossier City, La.
Trump briefly addressed the testimony of diplomat William Taylor and State Department official George Kent, who told the House Committees about their concerns regarding Trump’s policy in Ukraine, the focus on investigations into his political rivals and the actions of the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
“You saw yesterday how about when they asked these two Never Trumpers, ‘what exactly do you think you impeach him for?'” Trump said. “And they stood there and went like, ‘what?'”
“But they’re unraveling and their sinister plans will fail,” Trump added. “They’ve already failed as far as I’m concerned.”
The president avoided addressing any specific claims in the testimony from Taylor and Kent. Instead, he turned his ire toward House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), whom he mocked at length.
“He’s got the little 10-inch neck,” Trump said of the Democratic lawmaker, who is overseeing the impeachment hearings.
“He will not make the LSU football team, that I can tell you,” Trump added.
The president also read aloud from a post on The Daily Wire, a conservative publication that published quotes from a Ukrainian official that distanced the country from allegations against Trump.
Trump rallied in Louisiana for the second time in a week and the third time in a month as he makes a final push for Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone. Thursday’s event came one day after the first public hearing in the House impeachment inquiry.
Taylor in particular laid out in rich detail the timeline of events that led him to believe the president’s policy in Ukraine was inappropriate.
He delivered a damning new piece of testimony when he told the House Intelligence Committee that one of his staffers overheard a call between Trump and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland in which the president asked about investigations. The Associated Press reported earlier Thursday that a second staffer overheard the call as well.
But Trump and his allies have landed on a clear talking point in the aftermath of the hearing, noting that neither Taylor nor Kent had direct interactions with the president or first-hand information about potential wrongdoing.
Trump is facing a gauntlet of upcoming witness testimony that could produce more damaging revelation. Former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch is set to testify in public on Friday morning. She has previously told lawmakers behind closed doors that Giuliani led a concerted effort to smear her and remove her from her post.
Several more witnesses, including Sondland, will testify in public next week. The House committees leading the impeachment inquiry will also hear private deposition from additional administration officials in the coming days.
Earlier on Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) portrayed Trump’s actions as a clearly impeachable offense.
“What President Trump has done on the record — in terms of … [asking] a foreign power to help him in his own election and the obstruction of information about that, the cover up — makes what Nixon did look almost small,” she said at a press conference. “Almost small.”
Trump reiterated his belief that the impeachment process will ultimately benefit Republicans at the polls, despite public polling showing an even split among those in favor of impeachment and those opposed to it.
But in what appeared to be a more sincere moment from the free-wheeling president, Trump indicated to the crowd that the process has been difficult for his family and that he’d be happy to see it conclude.
“What a life I lead,” Trump said to the crowd. “You think this is fun, don’t you? But it’s been very hard on my family.”