President Donald Trump, fresh off what he claims was “total vindication” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, told supporters in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Thursday he had vanquished a corrupt cabal of Democrats, the news media and the Washington elite, who tried to nullify his historic election victory by painting him as an agent of Russia, the New York Times writes.
“After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead,” Mr. Trump declared. “The collusion delusion is over.”
In his first rally since the end of the 22-month investigation, Trump gleefully disregarded the old saw about revenge being a dish best served cold. He came onstage hot and served up one scorching zinger after another, taking particular delight in ridiculing Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, who oversees the House Intelligence Committee, and other Democrats who have led calls to investigate Trump.
“They’re on artificial respirators right now,” Trump said, his voice dripping with contempt. “They’re giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Little pencil-neck Adam Schiff. He’s got the smallest, thinnest neck I’ve ever seen.”
According to the Times, it was a calculated show of outrage by a president who has decided to seize on the Russia investigation to frame his ordeal as a conspiracy by his rivals to delegitimize him and diminish his achievements.
Trump has always peppered his speeches with “hells” and “damns,” but on Thursday, he crossed the line into cruder language. “The Democrats need to decide whether they will continue to defraud the public with ridiculous bullshit,” Trump said.
In vilifying his opponents, Trump was not troubled by the fact that the 300-plus-page report by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has yet to be released, or that Attorney General William P. Barr, in his summary of Mueller’s findings, stipulated that the report did not exonerate the President, even if it did not find him guilty of conspiracy or of obstructing justice.
In many ways, the speech was a return to first principles for Trump, reviving an insurgent theme that had fueled his campaign in 2016. He said the Russia investigation underlined the need to “drain the swamp,” and he celebrated his cheering supporters over what he described as the faithless elites in Washington.
“I’m president and they’re not,” Trump said of the elites. “They came, and they didn’t even know these people existed.”
“I have a better education than them. I’m smarter than them. I went to better schools than them,” he added. “Much more beautiful house. Much more beautiful everything.”
Trump also went after the “fake news” media, celebrating what he claimed was a sharp decline in ratings for CNN and MSNBC after the Mueller findings were released, and predicting they would never regain their credibility, the Times writes.