- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2019

President Trump officially declared the “Russia hoax” dead Thursday, telling ardent Michigan supporters that his foes failed to overturn the results of the 2016 election and are no longer fans of special counsel Robert Mueller, after he failed to find evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Reveling in the spotlight, he said America just had one of its best weeks ever.

“The economy is roaring, the ISIS caliphate is defeated 100 percent and after three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead,” Mr. Trump told the crowd in Grand Rapids. “The collusion delusion is over.”

He said those who pushed the Russia investigation have “now got big problems,” as he hints at payback, and accused Democrats of peddling “ridiculous bulls–” instead of focusing on things like infrastructure, trade and health care.

It was the president’s 18th rally in Michigan and his first since the conclusion of Mr. Mueller’s two-year probe into Russia’s campaign meddling.

Mr. Trump was ostensibly there to talk about cars. And he did, extolling new investments in Michigan and elsewhere, although he’s still urging General Motors to reopen a plant in Ohio.

“We’re bringing a lot of the car companies back. They’re coming back, they’re pouring back,” he said beneath a banner reading “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” at the Van Andel Arena.

But then, he revved up his base by slamming the “corrupt” media, popped a wheelie over his defeat of Hillary Clinton and spun doughnuts over Democrats who still say there were nefarious interactions between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Attorney General William Barr says the special counsel found no evidence Trump campaign figures conspired with Russia, and didn’t find enough evidence to bring an obstruction of justice case against the president himself.

Mr. Trump said he was totally cleared on that last count, even though the special counsel specifically said he could not exonerate the president on obstruction.

The president and his 2020 campaign are weaponizing the as-yet-unreleased Mueller report, saying Democrats and pundits should pay a price for pushing the collusion story during Mr. Trump’s first year in office.

Mr. Trump said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff should step down over his claims about Trump-Russia collusion in the run-up to Mr. Mueller’s findings.

Mr. Schiff defended himself Thursday, saying it was “not OK” that Mr. Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and his chairman, Paul Manafort, took a meeting with Russians at Trump Tower, among other issues.

The president slammed the chairman, dubbing him “pencil-neck Adam Schiff.”

“He’s got the smallest, thinnest neck I’ve ever seen. He’s not a long ball hitter,” he said, adding: “These people are sick.”

Mr. Trump is heading into the 2020 campaign by rallying support in red and purple states that went his way last time around, rather than trying to pave new ground.

He rattled off a list of accomplishments at home and abroad, and teased a bit of his campaign strategy, saying he’ll do better with women because they’ve filled 60 percent of new jobs during his tenure. And he said the Senate GOP is working on a way to replace his predecessor’s health care law, even though House Democrats will reject whatever they produce.

“We’re going to get rid of Obamacare,” Mr. Trump said. “The Republican Party will become the party of good health care.”

He decried “socialist” Democrats who are championing a government-run, single-payer plan and the push for a Green New Deal to reel in climate change. While some of his potential 2020 foes have embraced those ideas, others have proposed milder reforms or declined to take a firm stance.

The president alluded to TV actor Jussie Smollett, who is black and gay and claimed Trump supporters attacked him in Chicago, only to be charged with making a false report. A decision this week to drop those charges outraged Mayor Rahm Emanuel and prompted Mr. Trump to pounce on the episode as an “embarrassment.”

“Maybe the only time I’ve agreed with the mayor of Chicago,” the president said.

Mr. Trump extolled his 2016 victory and said his promised border wall, which sparked a lengthy government shutdown and confrontation with Congress, is on its way. He said immigrants trying to get must get in legally and come “based on merit.”

But Mr. Trump reserved much of his praise for his own campaign, his supporters, and himself, saying he has a better education and apartment than his “elite” detractors.

“I’m president and they’re not, right?” he said. “They’re not elite, you’re the elite. We’re the elite!”

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