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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

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

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