Trapped in impeachment limbo, President Trump sought holiday succor by promoting his Space Force and telling young supporters in Florida that House Democrats are too chicken to send charges against him to the Senate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats will demand a fair trial from Senate GOP leaders before sending articles of impeachment that say Mr. Trump abused his office in dealing with Ukraine and then obstructed Congress.
In Mr. Trump’s telling, Democrats are afraid they have overplayed their hand.
“She has no case,” Mr. Trump told a student summit hosted by Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit, on Saturday. “They are violating the Constitution.”
“There’s no crime, there’s no nothing,” he added. “In fact, there’s no impeachment. What are we doing here?”
Mr. Trump left Washington for his resort in Palm Beach late Friday with first lady Melania Trump; their son, Barron; and the president’s elder daughter, Ivanka Trump. The president plans to stay in Florida through New Year’s.
He’s enjoying the friendly confines of his Mar-a-Lago resort and posh golf club across town at a critical juncture in his presidency.
The Senate is expected to hold a trial on his removal at some point in the new year — though Republican leaders say he won’t be ousted — and Mr. Trump faced unexpected headwinds last week when Christianity Today, a flagship publication for evangelicals in America, called for his removal from office in the wake of the House impeachment vote.
Mr. Trump responded angrily, insisting there are no cracks in his firewall of evangelical support. He also called Republicans who loathe him, or so-called “Never Trumpers,” the “dumbest people on Earth.”
“They are sick people, there’s no question about it,” he told the raucous Turning Point crowd.
The president said the Democrats are the ones who can’t get on the same page, recounting how a few of them defected from House votes Wednesday to impeach him.
“We had three Democrats coming to our side, so I guess you have to say that was a bipartisan vote,” Mr. Trump said.
He seemed relaxed and in good spirits as he called young supporters up to the stage to recount their battles with liberal voices on college campuses.
He also rattled off his latest accomplishments, from securing a revamped North American trade deal to a first-phase agreement with China that puts off some thorny decisions but should boost Chinese purchases of U.S. farm goods.
Before leaving Washington, Mr. Trump signed a $738 billion defense authorization bill that formally creates the Space Force branch of the military, grants a 3.1% pay raise to troops and provides up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to nearly all federal employees.
“When it comes to the military, there is no budget,” Mr. Trump told the Turning Point crowd.
He said people are going “crazy” for his Space Force, which Mr. Trump created to counter emerging threats beyond the atmosphere’s limits.
“Probably ‘Star Wars’ people or something, who the hell knows?” the president said. “I’m not doing this for political reasons. We need that, that’s the next frontier.”
Mr. Trump also signed a $1.4 trillion spending package that avoids a government shutdown and funds all federal agencies through September.
The president’s action and the agreement on spending in Congress avoids a repeat of the partial government shutdown of last December in a fight over border-wall funding.
The package provides $1.375 billion for the wall, the same as in fiscal 2019 and much less than the $8.6 billion the president had sought.
The measures also raise the age for purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21, and repeals three taxes created under Obamacare. The spending adds a projected $426 billion in deficits over the next decade.
“Taken together, the government funding bills guarantee that critical priorities — investing in the military, ensuring Americans are more prosperous and healthy, delivering border security, engaging on criminal justice reform, and defending life — will be met in the upcoming year,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.
Mr. Trump has portrayed himself as an unorthodox dealmaker who is indispensable to voters, despite mounting pressures around him.
Citing a soaring stock market and booming economy, he says voters will have no choice but to reelect him over the eventual Democratic nominee.
The president on Saturday knocked the front-runner in the Democratic nomination race, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, as a confused person who can’t remember what state he is in when he gives a stump speech.
“There’s something going on up there,” Mr. Trump said.
He also criticized Mr. Biden’s son Hunter for making money in Ukraine and China during his father’s tenure as vice president.
Mr. Trump’s attempts to get Ukrainian leaders to investigate his theories about the Biden situation and a 2016 computer server from the Democratic National Committee led to his impeachment.Eyeing 2020, the president said he’ll keep raising questions about the Bidens.
“I hope he wins,” Mr. Trump said, “because he will never, ever be able to answer these questions.”