Trump rallies supporters in Michigan while House impeaches him

Riding a surge of new donations to his re-election campaign and high approval ratings, President Donald Trump delivered his longest rally yet.

Evan Vucci/AP
President Donald Trump holds his longest rally yet on Dec. 18, 2019, in Battle Creek, Michigan, while the House of Representatives votes to impeach him.

An embattled President Donald Trump condemned the Democratic-led impeachment vote against him on Wednesday, irked that he made U.S. history in a bad way but assured that Republicans in the Senate will save him from being ousted.

"This lawless, partisan impeachment is a political suicide march for the Democrat Party," Mr. Trump told a rollicking rally for his re-election campaign in Michigan just as the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted to impeach him.

It was Mr. Trump's longest rally ever, according to the tracking site Factbase, clocking in at two hours and one minute. Mr. Trump's campaign has experienced a surge in contributions and volunteers during the impeachment inquiry and aides were hoping to raise an additional $2 million Wednesday ahead of the votes.

The vote, while along party lines, cast a cloud over the image-conscious Trump, putting him in a category as one of only four presidents out of 45 who have faced possible ouster through impeachment. Only one, Richard Nixon, actually left office and did so before a House impeachment vote occurred.

Assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Republican-controlled Senate will not convict him in a trial early next year were something of a cold comfort for Mr. Trump, who has frequently complained the "nasty" word of impeachment was being associated with him.

In Michigan, a state that helped carry him to victory in 2016 and will be critical next November, Mr. Trump expressed pride that Republicans in the House were united in opposition to impeachment and that three Democrats had also voted against it.

He said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats had given themselves an "eternal mark of shame." 

"They're the ones who should be impeached, every one of them," he said of Democrats.

The rally was a convenient venue for Mr. Trump to address the matter at hand and let the rhetoric fly. He lashed out at many Democrats by name, including the late Representative John Dingell, and went on various riffs that served as a greatest hits of his many grievances. 

Scheduled weeks ago, the rally just happened to take place on the day of the House vote.

Supporters in the crowd gave no sign their enthusiasm for him had waned. "Four more years!" they chanted.

Mr. Trump's case now goes to the Senate, where Mr. McConnell has vowed impeachment will die. Mr. McConnell, a close Trump ally, plans a trial in early January and has assured the White House the necessary 67 votes from the 100-senator chamber will not be there to convict him and remove him from office.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham expressed confidence in a statement after the House vote that Mr. Trump would be "fully exonerated."

The president has been described by aides and advisers as unhappy about the impeachment imbroglio but feeling it will provide some political dividends as he celebrates trade deals with China and Mexico and Canada that stand to boost the U.S. economy.

"He was not happy about being impeached, but he wasn't down about it – not even close," said a close confidant who recently spoke to Mr. Trump.

A balm for Mr. Trump have been opinion polls showing his job approval rating on the rise and the popularity of impeachment on the wane.

So was a surge in donations to his re-election campaign, the confidant said. More than 600,000 first-time donors have contributed to Republican National Committee and Trump campaign coffers in the last six weeks, according to the RNC.

Still, the day was not a happy one for the president.

Before flying to Michigan, he spent a considerable amount of time thumbing out tweets about the impeachment process. One, written in all capital letters, drew more than 170,000 likes by Wednesday night: "THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!" he wrote.

A White House official said he had had a light schedule during the day and had been monitoring the deliberations. Mr. Trump saved his outrage for the rally, though, walking past reporters at the White House before the trip without pausing, as he often does, to take questions.

This story was reported by Reuters. It contains additional material from The Associated Press. 

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