Trump Renews Attacks on Democrats Over House Impeachment Vote

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump on Friday renewed his attacks on Democrats’ impeachment efforts at his first campaign rally since the House voted to kick off the public phase of the accelerating inquiry.

“The Democrat party has gone completely insane,” Trump told a cheering audience at a rally in Tupelo, Mississippi. He said the party is trying to overturn the 2016 election results in “an attack on democracy itself.”

“The Democrats, the media and the deep state are desperate to stop us,” Trump said.

The rally comes after the House voted on Thursday along mostly partisan lines to begin open hearings into what Democrats say is an abuse of power by Trump in pressuring Ukraine to undertake investigations for his personal political benefit.

The president’s appearance showed he has retained a unique pull among his supporters -- despite bad headlines in Washington. The crowd cheered when Trump attacked Democrats and chanted “Four more years!” When he mentioned Democrat Hillary Clinton, they yelled, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

Trump previewed some of the unconventional methods he might employ to fight the impeachment inquiry in an interview published on Thursday. He told the Washington Examiner he was considering a “fireside chat” where he would read the records of his July 25 telephone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to the American people, or having his campaign sell T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Read the Transcript.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday she expects the impeachment inquiry of to begin public hearings this month but insisted there’s no deadline to finish the investigation.

“I would assume there would be public hearings in November,” Pelosi said in a roundtable with Bloomberg reporters and editors. Any case that is made to impeach the president “has to be ironclad.”

Trump found a sympathetic audience in Mississippi, where a recent Mason-Dixon poll showing 56% of voters opposed impeachment efforts and 54% approved of the job Trump was doing.

At the rally, the president sought to bolster Republican gubernatorial candidate Tate Reeves in an off-year election. Reeves, a two-term lieutenant governor, could use the support, with the same Mason-Dixon poll showing him with just a three percentage point lead over Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood.

Trump’s ability to sway voters will be crucial as he tries to keep GOP lawmakers loyal after revelations about the president’s efforts to encourage Ukraine to investigate political rival and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

The House’s vote on Thursday showed that impeachment in the chamber is all but inevitable. That would create a dynamic in which Trump is the first president to be impeached and then seek re-election.

More Rallies

The president will have to maintain a strong grip over Republicans to prevent his removal from office by the Senate, or by voters. Trump rallies, which often fill sports arenas, help him build enthusiasm among supporters. He has two more scheduled next week: in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday and Monroe, Louisiana, on Wednesday.

Vice President Mike Pence is set to follow Trump to Mississippi with an event of his own Monday night to rev up support for Reeves.

Hood, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has gained momentum by highlighting Republican opposition to $5 billion in Medicaid expansion funds that would enable poor residents of the state to get health care under a program launched as part of Obamacare. Hood has argued the state is missing out on critical assistance that would help bolster the state’s roads and hospitals; Reeves says the proposals represent unrealistic government spending.

While a loss in Mississippi would prove an embarrassment to Trump, he’s had recent success in the state. Last year, Trump and Pence both came to the state to help Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith fend off a challenge from Democrat Mike Espy –- a race the Republican lawmaker ultimately won by eight percentage points.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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