Trump addresses impeachment at rally as House votes to impeach him

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Battle Creek — As the U.S. House voted to impeach Trump, the president spoke to the Battle Creek crowd about nuclear weapons, job growth and funding for the nation’s historically black colleges and universities.  He also took shots at some of his Democratic challengers in the 2020 race.

Trump referred to the impeachment a “political suicide march for the Democratic Party.”

“They think the Washington swamp should be able to veto the results of an election,” Trump said.

He touted “record days” in the stock market, adding he’s not allowed to have stocks.

Majority of House votes to impeach Trump

Michigan House reps back Trump impeachment 8-6 along party lines

For Michigan, the automotive sector also is doing well, he said, noting an investment by Ford Motor Co. this week that will add about 3,000 jobs.

“We’re doing so well in Michigan with the auto companies now,” Trump said. “You’re back.”

Taking aim at Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic challenger in the 2020 presidential race, Trump said his 13-year-old son could draw a bigger crowd of supporters.

“I could have Barron Trump, go into Central Park and he’d get a bigger crowd than ‘crazy Pocahontas,’” he said.

He told supporters he felt good about his position in the current campaign to retain the presidency and accused newspapers of writing “suppression polls.”

He reflected on the 2016 race, referring to his former Democratic challenger, Hillary Clinton, as “crooked Hillary,” saying she didn’t do enough in the state to secure its support.

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

“We won Michigan and the word is, we’re much higher in the polls than we ever were in 2016 in Michigan,” he told the crowd.

Candidate debates, he said, “are dying.”

“Who wants to watch Buttigieg,” Trump said of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who is among those vying for the Democratic nomination. “That’s why they call him mayor Pete. They call him mayor Pete because nobody can pronounce his last name.”

As the U.S. House voted to impeach him, President Donald Trump told thousands of supporters it “doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached."

“The country is doing better than ever before, we did nothing wrong, and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party, like we’ve never had before,” he said. 

Healthcare and Flint water

Trump launched into an attack of Democratic policies on national healthcare.

“The far-left Democrats have never been more extreme than they are right now,” he said.

He also delved into the Flint water crisis, asking “who are the geniuses that did that deal?”

“You had clean water coming into flint,” said Trump, noting the switch of the water supply “was so terrible and it hurt the people.”

Trump then attacked former Gov. Rick Snyder: “I know your previous governor was a Republican, but I was not a big fan of his.”

“I’m not a big fan of the one who can’t fix the potholes either,” Trump added of Whitmer.

Trump said with his administration, the forgotten men and women of the country will not be forgotten again. And the country is respected again, he said.

“Michigan is the state where generations of strong, tough and proud American workers made this into the most powerful nation in the history of the world and we are making it bigger, better and stronger than ever before, by far,” he said. “I fight for you with everything I have, and I will never, ever stop.”

Manufacturing jobs - more to come

Trump talked about the country’s 600,000 manufacturing jobs and said there’s more to come.

He said we need more people coming into the country.

“They are going to come in and come in through merit and they are going to respect our country and they are going to work,” he said.

The president also talked about Fiat Chrysler’s $4.5 billion investment in the state, including a new Jeep plant in Detroit and a recent $300 million announcement by General Motors for the Orion Assembly Plant.

Supporters listen while President Donald Trump speaks at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Mich. on Dec. 18, 2019.

“After years of rebuilding foreign nations, we are finally rebuilding our nation. Is that OK?,” he said.

Trump also said his administration has taken bold action to deal with an influx of refugees.

He criticized sanctuary cities and said his White House is “making sure Americans have a say about who is being admitted into your neighborhoods.”

“If you want to end sanctuary cities in Michigan … if you want a safe life. You have only one choice in 2020, you must vote Republican,” he said.

On Joe Biden

Democrats, he said, are “accusing me really of doing what Joe Biden admitted he did.”

“They protect him. Did you see the crummy debate? Those debates are so boring. They are dying in the ratings,” he said, adding Biden wasn’t pressed hard on his son’s involvement in foreign business.

“Sleepy Joe gives a sleepy answer and that’s the end of it,” Trumps said, saying if it was him “it would be the electric chair.”

'Never been so united'

During his speech, the president attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats for the impeachment vote, saying “we did nothing wrong.”

“This is the first impeachment where there’s no crime,” said the president who acknowledged Wednesday night’s vote. “When you don’t do anything wrong, you get impeached. They have cheapened the impeachment process.”

President Donald Trump speaks at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Mich. on Dec. 18, 2019.

Trump noted that “every single Republican voted for us.”

“We didn’t lose one Republican vote and three Democrats voted for us,” he said. “The Republican Party has never been so affronted, but they have never been so united as they are right now.”

He told the crowd about the letter he’d sent to Pelosi, saying she’s “declaring open war on democracy” and that the Democrats are the ones who are obstructing justice.

“It threatens to destroy what our founders pledged and in fact their very lives to build. We did nothing wrong. Nothing whatsoever. This is just an excuse,” he said of the impeachment inquiry.

Americans he said will turn up next year “to vote Pelosi the hell out of office.”

“It’s so disappointing,” he said.

Trump said that the Democrats “are the ones that should be impeached, every one of them.”

Supporters cheer while President Donald Trump speaks at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Mich. on Dec. 18, 2019.

Trump also went after Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, saying he “makes up a statement from me that’s totally fictitious, out of thin air” and “the worst thing I’ve ever heard.”

He mocked him, saying he’s “not exactly a good-looking guy.”

“This guy Schiff … he’s a pathological liar,” Trump claims.

He also took aim at U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, for her position. He said he gave the “A-plus treatment” for Dingell’s late husband, John Dingell, who died earlier this year.

“Let’s put it this way, it was the most profuse thank you, you could ever get,” he said of the efforts undertaken by Trump to honor John Dingell. But now, he said, Debbie Dingell has voted to impeach him.

Trump earlier rehashed Clinton’s alleged dealings and called former FBI Director James Comey “another beauty” and asked, “did I do another great job when I fired his ass?”

“That was like throwing a rock at a hornet’s nest,” he said.

Now I hear she (Clinton) wants to run again, “wouldn’t that be great,” he said.

“You think the Democrats are screwed up, wait until that happens,” he said as the crowd began chanting “lock her up.”

Impeached while on stage

A majority in U.S. House has voted to impeach President Donald Trump on the charge of abuse of power for enlisting a foreign ally to investigate a political rival ahead of the 2020 election. The vote is ongoing.

Trump talked about “great” trade deals, including the redoing of the North American Free Trade Agreement that his administration has negotiated with with Mexico and Canada and awaits a Thursday vote in the U.S. House.

He also took a shot at Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, saying “she’s not fixing those potholes” and “that’s what the word is.” Earlier in the day, she told reporters that she supported impeachment while indicating she was preparing a new road funding plan after shelving her 45-cent-per-gallon tax increase plan.

People do the wave while waiting for President Donald Trump at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek.

A protester briefly disrupted Wednesday’s speech, prompting Trump to suggest it’ll be the focus of the “Fake News,” saying reporters are “the biggest fakers.” 

“They are going to make that like it’s the biggest event, just forget it,” he said. 

The president arrived at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek around 7:10 p.m., according to the White House media pool report.

A large Christmas tree is on stage with a Make America Great Again hat atop it, in lieu of a star or other garnish. The crowd was doing the wave, with many carrying green "Keep America Great" signs.

Hogan Gidley told the pool of reporters to expect a Christmas message from Trump before he addresses the impeachment vote. That part of the speech should last about 30 minutes, he said, which will be about a third of the speech. 

Trump, the nation’s 45th president, is on track Wednesday to become only the third commander in chief to be impeached.

President Donald Trump speaks at a rally at Kellogg Arena, in Battle Creek.

As the House takes up the vote on articles of impeachment, President Donald Trump's campaign is trying to rally key areas of Michigan.

Vice President Mike Pence held a Wednesday campaign event with workers in Saginaw County, which Trump narrowly won in 2016.

Also on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General William Barr was in Detroit for a non-campaign event to announce a plan to reduce violent crime.

The day will end with Trump and Pence's 7 p.m. rally in Battle Creek in Calhoun County, a county that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2012 but for Trump by a double-digit margin three years ago. 

Vice President Mike Pence speaks before President Donald Trump arrives at a rally at Kellogg Arena, in Battle Creek, December 18, 2019.

Stay with us throughout the day for updates on the various events: 

POTUS has landed

Air Force One touched down at Battle Creek Executive Airport at 6:36 p.m. with a crowd of 150 supporters waiting for him in the cold. 

President Donald Trump deplaned at 6:51 p.m., followed by Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, who is the former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman. 

President Donald Trump arrives at the Battle Creek Executive Airport at Kellogg Field in Battle Creek, Mich. on Dec. 18, 2019.

Trump waved to the crowd but did not walk over, according to a pool report. Packed snow is on the ground. 

Vice President Mike Pence's more than two dozen-car motorcade arrived in Battle Creek shortly before 6 p.m. after a nearly 3-hour trek along shuttered Michigan roads and highways. 

The two will meet up at the rally together. 

Estimate: 5,400 at Trump rally

The Battle Creek fire chief estimates 5,400 people are in attendance for the Trump rally Wednesday night at the Kellogg Arena.

— Craig Mauger

Finding common ground

If there was anything that could bring Michiganians across the political divide together, it would be the weather. 

In Wave Square where protesters and counter protesters gathered before the 7 p.m. rally, some joined forces in staying warm. 

Huizenga: 'Most partisan' move in history

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R- Zeeland, denounced the Democratic effort to impeach Trump as “most partisan impeachment that we have seen in our nation’s history.

“In her own words, Speaker Pelosi said impeachment must be compelling, overwhelming and bipartisan,” he said. “These articles of impeachment being considered today don’t meet Speaker Pelosi’s own standards.” 

Huizenga invoked his service as a House staffer in the 1990s during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton as evidence of experience with impeachment proceedings. 

“Process matters folks,” he said. “Representing a good chuck of Gerald Ford’s old district and being a staffer in the Clinton administration, I have an intimate understand of the effects of impeachment on this nation. I’m stunned to see my Democrat colleagues whitewash, or maybe I should say Whitewater, Bill Clinton’s cooperation with the House of Representatives. That is not exactly what was going on.”  

Walberg: Impeachment is 'political weapon'

U.S. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, called the articles of impeachment against Trump baseless, saying he will “proudly vote no”.

“Our Founding Fathers never intended impeachment to be a one-sided political weapon,” he said. “Sadly, the majority has reduced this serious constitutional action to a purely partisan tactic to take down President Trump.

“History will not be kind to the vote today,” Walberg continued. “It will be remembered as a rushed process that lacks credibility or transparency with a predetermined outcome that puts a premium on political theater instead of facts. By any objective standards, the Democrats' impeachment case is the thinnest imaginable. There’s no impeachment case before us today. It’s a complete and total sham.” 

— Keith Laing

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds hands with Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., as they walk to the chamber where the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives begins a day of debate on the impeachments charges.

GOP leaders: Trump will get ton of support

Oakland County Republican Party Chairman Rocky Raczkowski and Meshawn Maddock of Trump Republicans were at Battle Creek airport to greet President Donald Trump before his scheduled 7 p.m. rally at Kellogg Arena. Trump will get a ton of support at Wednesday night’s rally, they said. 

— Ingrid Jacques

Amash: 'Our duty to impeach'

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, an independent from Cascade Township and a Trump critic who left the Republican Party in July, said lawmakers have a duty to impeach the 45th president.

“I come to this floor, not as a Democrat, not a Republican, but as an American who cares deeply about the Constitution, the rule of law, and the rights of the people,” he said.

Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

“Under our system of government, impeachment is not about policy disagreements or ineffective governance, nor is it about criminality based on statutes that did not exist at the time our Constitution was written. Impeachment is about maintaining the integrity of the office of the presidency, and ensuring that executive power be directed toward proper ends in accordance with the law.”

Amash, who has been floated by some Democrats to be one of the representatives who prosecutes the impeachment case against Trump in the U.S. Senate, said the case against the president has been made clear.

“President Donald J. Trump has abused and violated the public trust by using his high office to solicit the aid of a foreign power, not for the benefit of the United States of America, but instead for his personal and political gain,” he said. “His actions reflect precisely the kind of type of conduct the framers of the Constitution intended to remedy through impeachment, and it is our duty to impeach him.” 

— Keith Laing

Lawrence to vote yes after about-face 

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, who recently walked back statements she made on a Detroit area podcast in late November suggesting the possibility of Congress censuring Trump, said she intends to vote yes on both articles of impeachment.

“The facts are conclusive,” Lawrence said. “The president attempted to use the power of the powerful office of president to force Ukraine to influence our 2020 election. In the process, President Trump jeopardized our national security and withheld vital military assistance intended to prevent further Russian aggression to our region.” 

— Keith Laing

Tlaib: Doing nothing 'not an option'

U.S. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, cast the debate about impeaching Trump in patriotic terms.

“I learn so much every single day from my residents at home,” she said. “Their common sense and understanding of what is right and wrong is centered on why they oppose any person using the most powerful position in the world for personal gain. 

“We honor our veterans in this chamber almost on a daily basis, but do we ever follow their lead?” Tlaib continued. “Where we serve the people of the United States and uphold the Constitution not as a Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. We should learn from their sense of duty and responsibility to country and democracy, not political party.

“Doing nothing here is not an option,” Tlaib concluded. “Looking away from these crimes against our country is not an option. This is about protecting the future of our nation and our democracy from corruption, abuse of power, criminal coverups and bribery.” 

— Keith Laing

Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment.

Kildee: 'No choice' but impeachment

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint, was the first Michigan Democrat to take the floor on what he said was “a sad day for our country and for our democracy.

“The president has abused the powers of his office, betrayed the public trust, and undermined America’s national security by pressuring a foreign government to interfere in our election for his own personal gain,” he said. “In this moment in our history, the constitution is clear. The remedy for such misconduct by a president is impeachment. I didn’t come here to Congress to impeach a President of the United States, but sadly the president’s misconduct leaves us no choice but to follow the Constitution.”

— Keith Laing

Next stop for Pence is Bronner’s, which is a bit chaotic on a good day during Christmas, let alone when the VP is here.

Pence visits Frankenmuth's Zehnder's

Inside Zehnder’s, Pence is meeting with diners who were taken somewhat unaware by the visit. As press preceded Pence into the restaurant, one woman noted someone big must be coming. “I bet it’s Santa,” she said.

Judy Castillo of Lansing was celebrating her 84th birthday when VP came through. She’s a supporter of Trump/Pence but acknowledged she’s from a “house divided.” Her husband Jesse is not a fan. “She’s going to get a talking to when we get home,” he joked. “And I won’t listen,” she said.

— Beth LeBlanc

Vice President Mike Pence visits Zehnder's and chats with Michigan residents.

Mitchell: 'You simply don't like him

Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Dryden, who is planning to retire from Congress in 2020, was the first Michigan lawmaker to speak on the U.S. House floor during the six-hour debate window that opened around noon.

Mitchell warned lawmakers that “impeachment was intended to be safety valve, rarely used, only when a president acts in such a blatant and immoral manner as to threaten the very basis of our republic.” He accused Democrats who are leading the effort to impeach Trump of “weaponizing impeachment, making it another election tool."

Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment.

Mitchell said he will be voting no on the article of impeachment against Trump.

“As we cast votes on these articles, the future tone of this House and politics in this nation must be considered,” he said. “The issue is not whether we agree with or like the president’s rhetoric, political tactics, use of Twitter, policy choices or his political rallies. One of our founders, Alexander Hamilton, warned of the risks of impeachment becoming a solely partisan act in the Federalist paper. This impeachment inquiry and these articles clearly do not heed that warning.”

“I’ve carefully examined the evidence presented throughout the report, and contrary to some, considered our history, our founding documents and our future,” he said. “It is clear President Trump’s actions as described in these articles do not constitute treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors. You simply don’t like him. I’ll be voting no on these articles, and will hope some day we return to serving the needs of the American people.” 

— Keith Laing

Pence promises gains for workers

About 200 Trump supporters gathered at a Saginaw Township conference center during Vice President Mike Pence’s first stop on his mid-Michigan bus tour. Several in the crowd carried signs saying “Keep America Working.”

After an intro from Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Laura Cox, Pence took the stage Wednesday morning. Pence notes he’s visited Michigan on a “blustery day” and “a day when there’s a lot of bluster in Washington.”

After an intro from MRP Chairwoman Laura Cox, Vice President Mike Pence has taken the stage.
Pence notes he’s visited Michigan on a “blustery day” and “a day when there’s a lot of bluster in Washington.”

Pence touts employment numbers, tax breaks, a new North American Trade deal and the announcement of 3,000 jobs at Ford Motor Co. yesterday.

“The best is yet to come for American workers under President Trump,” Pence said.

Pence said after House votes on “sham impeachment” today they’ll move on to the proposed trade deal. Today, “the only bipartisan vote will be a vote against the articles of impeachment,” Pence said.

“Michigan said yes to President Donald Trump in 2016 and he and I both know Michigan will say yes to President Donald Trump in 2020,” Pence said.

— Beth LeBlanc

James: Impeachment is about ‘revenge,’ says it’s a ‘sad day’

John James

Lansing – John James, a Republican challenging Democratic Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, said Wednesday he opposes the pending impeachment of President Donald Trump.

“While this is not a question that I will face in the Senate, I will tell you, this impeachment is not about the rule of law, it is about revenge,” James said in a statement in response to an inquiry from The Associated Press. “In the Senate, I would demand Congress stop working against each other and start working for the people on issues like trade, health care and immigration. This is a sad day in American history.”

The Senate, where the GOP has the majority, is expected to acquit Trump in a trial next year after the Democratic-led House votes later Wednesday.

Peters, a freshman up for re-election in a crucial 2020 battleground, has not said how he will vote on removing Trump from office. He has said the process should be “driven by the facts” and the facts so far are “very concerning.”

Trump will hold a rally in Battle Creek on Wednesday night.

Associated Press

Pence lands in Mid-Michigan 

Vice President Mike Pence landed at the MBS International Airport in Freeland shortly after 11 a.m Wednesday, ahead of a couple yet-to-be-announced stops in mid-Michigan.

The former Indiana governor departed the plane in blustery 15-degree weather before stepping on to the campaign bus.

Vice President Mike Pence has landed in Freeland ahead of some stops in mid-Michigan. He’ll end the day at the Battle Creek rally alongside President Trump.

Pence is expected to end his brief tour beside President Donald Trump at his Battle Creek rally Wednesday night.

— Beth LeBlanc

Dingell has her say

During an appearance on MSNBC Wednesday morning, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell gave her take on impeachment, calling it one of the "saddest days I can remember". 

"I remember watching John on the Clinton one, and I didn’t understand how awful a vote this was. I’m not happy standing here today. But when we take this oath of office, it’s about defending our democracy. The tone of his rhetoric. The letter he sent to the speaker yesterday was so awful. And frankly, his tweets are just…you know, I have been very, very careful. I haven’t taken shots, I haven’t made my rhetoric ugly or bullying like many others have.

"When he Twittered at me on Saturday after a very measured interview on Saturday, I can’t tell you what it did to me. It’s unacceptable for this country that we are looking at the kind of rhetoric we are looking at as we discuss such an important subject."

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich, speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019.

Trump targeted Dingell, a Democrat from Dearborn, on Twitter Saturday night while also mentioning her late husband, Rep. John Dingell. During Wednesday's appearance, she spoke about the attack:

"I know it’s his MO, but when it’s the man you love, who earned his honors, you feel kicked in your stomach as it relates to me. But what I want to say, is the biggest problems I think we have, we’ve got a lot of problems in this country. But if you read the Mueller report, it talks about how Russia is trying to divide us as a country. The tone of the rhetoric, the bullying, the insults, the lack of civility is harming this country. And the president is front and center leading that tone of rhetoric. As we’re going into the holiday season, I can’t tell you how it disgusts me. We’ve got to come together as Americans. We are not Republicans or Democrats first, we are Americans. We’ve got to remember that, and I hope our president will remember that. And his job is to pull us together as a country, not to pull us apart."

— Keith Laing