Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump let loose Thursday at a White House event to mark his impeachment acquittal, saying it was not a speech or a news conference but "a celebration."

The big picture: The 62-minute event was pure unchained Trump — a midday TV drama featuring his closest allies from the White House and Capitol Hill — that saw the president go scorched earth in a setting more akin to one of his campaign rallies than a traditional East Room gathering.

  • Like a rally, the focus didn't just stay on impeachment. The president relitigated the entire Russia investigation and a number of unfounded conspiracy theories surrounding it, claiming that former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page "were going to try and overthrow the government of the United States" and calling former FBI Director James Comey "a sleaze bag."
"There's nothing from a legal standpoint. This is a political thing. And every time I'd say, 'This is unfair, let's go to court,' they'd say, 'You can't go to court. Sir, this is politics.' We were treated unbelievably unfairly. You have to understand, we first went through Russia, Russia, Russia. It was all bullshit."

The state of play: The president used the event to thank his allies and settle scores, despite already taking a shot at impeachment foils Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) earlier Thursday.

  • He referred to both Pelosi and House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) as "horrible" people and said that Pelosi "doesn't pray."
  • He singled out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his "fantastic job" in leading the Senate's Republican caucus through the impeachment process and trial.
  • His extended victory lap featured a long list of members of Congress — from Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) to Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) — to single out for praise.

Between the lines: Trump repeatedly refused to admit that he had done anything wrong regarding the Ukraine affair, brushing it aside as a political witch hunt, despite the fact that a number of Senate Republicans have stated that his actions were wrong but not impeachable.

Flashback to the New York Times headline for former President Bill Clinton's first public statement after his impeachment acquittal in 1999: "The President Says He Feels Humbled and Is 'Profoundly Sorry.'"

Go deeper

Republicans and Dems react to Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation

President Trump stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett after she took the constitutional oath to serve as a Supreme Court justice during a White House ceremony Monday night .Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump said Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court and her subsequent taking of the constitutional oath Monday was a "momentous day," as she she vowed to serve "without any fear or favour."

  • But as Republicans applauded the third conservative justice in four years, many Democrats including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) warned of consequences to the rush to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the Nov. 3 election, with progressives leading calls to expand the court.
Ina Fried, author of Login
36 mins ago - Science

CRISPR pioneer: "Science is on the ballot" in 2020

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

In her three decades in science, Jennifer Doudna said she has seen a gradual erosion of trust in the profession, but the recent Nobel Prize winner told "Axios on HBO" that the institution itself has been under assault from the current administration.

  • "I think science is on the ballot," Doudna said in the interview.

Why it matters: That has manifested itself in everything from how the federal government approaches climate change to the pandemic.

Ted Cruz doesn't think the Hunter Biden attacks are working

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told "Axios on HBO" he doesn't think the Trump campaign's focus on the Biden family's business dealings are having any sway with voters.

The big picture: After watching the Trump-Biden debate with "Axios on HBO" on Thursday night, Cruz said he thought Trump had done very well. But when asked whether he thought voters were moved by the release of the Hunter Biden emails, Cruz replied, "I don't think it moves a single voter."

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