1) To dismiss even the notion that he would be chastened or changed by the fact that seven Republican senators voted to convict and remove him from office and, even among those who voted to acquit him, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, there was a widespread admission that he had behaved in ways that were potentially criminal.
2) To make clear that he is not done with politics, and that those who crossed him on this vote might well feel the sting of his retribution in two years or four.
On the first point, Trump sought to, somehow, connect this impeachment trial with his last impeachment trial, which concerned his actions in relation to Ukraine, as well as with Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.
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“This has been yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our Country,” read Trump’s statement. “No president has ever gone through anything like it, and it continues because our opponents cannot forget the almost 75 million people, the highest number ever for a sitting president, who voted for us just a few short months ago.”
Trump’s repeated claims of how many votes he won last November (it was actually just north of 74.2 million) continues to be an odd defense given that President Joe Biden won nearly 81.3 million votes. It’s as if Trump is touting that his basketball team scored 84 points without mentioning that the team they played scored 100.
Speaking of Trump’s playing of the classics, he also used his statement to assert that his political opponents have given “a free pass to denigrate the rule of law, defame law enforcement, cheer mobs, excuse rioters, and transform justice into a tool of political vengeance” while he continues to be a “champion for the unwavering rule of law.”
That, too, is inaccurate — as anyone who watched the Senate impeachment trial now knows. Clip after clip was shown by the House impeachment managers in which Trump supporters violently attacked US Capitol Police, screamed epithets at them and otherwise provoked them. Even after that behavior, Trump told those who gathered in Washington on January 6 that “we love you.”
Then there was the second part of Trump’s message: That he was far from done in politics and the best was yet to come — or something.
“Our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun,” he said in the statement. “In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people. There has never been anything like it!”
“In the months ahead, I have much to share with you.” Cue eyes emoji.
Trump wants to make sure that both his loyal followers and those, like McConnell, who are rapidly trying to put the Trump presidency in the rearview mirror, know that it’s not over yet for the 45th President. That, whether or not he ultimately decides to run for president again in 2024, he is planning to keep the fires burning for his supporters — and work to punish those he perceives to be his enemies — for as long as he can.
Just in case you missed that message, Trump said it again — in slightly different words. “We have so much work ahead of us, and soon we will emerge with a vision for a bright, radiant, and limitless American future,” he promised.
Message? You’re not done with me yet, Republican Party. Not by a long shot.
For the likes of McConnell — and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming — Trump’s statement is a bitter reminder that once you create the Frankenstein monster, you can’t just un-create him. You have to live with the consequences of your actions.