- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 6, 2020

President Trump blasted his impeachment opponents Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast, taking a veiled shot at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for offering what he termed insincere prayers for him.

“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” Mr. Trump said with Mrs. Pelosi seated near him on the dais. “Nor do I like people who say ‘I pray for you’ when they know that that’s not so.”

It was Mr. Trump’s first public comments since the Senate acquitted him on Wednesday in his impeachment trial. During the impeachment inquiry, Mrs. Pelosi said she has prayed for Mr. Trump.

His comments also appeared to be in reference to Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who cited his faith on Wednesday when he became the lone GOP senator to vote to convict Mr. Trump.

The president said of those who led his impeachment, “They know what they are doing is wrong.”

“As everybody knows my family, our great country, and your president, have been put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people,” the president said. “They have done everything possible to destroy us. And by so doing, very badly hurt our nation. They put themselves far ahead of our great country.”

“So many people have been hurt,” Mr. Trump said. “And we can’t let that go on. And I’ll be discussing that a little bit later at the White House.”

Mr. Trump is scheduled to give a statement about his acquittal at the White House around noon.

The theme of the prayer breakfast was “love your enemies.” Keynote speaker Arthur Brooks, a Harvard University professor, said Jesus Christ told his followers to “answer hatred with love.”

“Ask God to take political contempt from your heart,” Mr. Brooks said.

When the president got to the podium, he turned to Mr. Brooks and said, “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you.”

He praised the faithful in the ballroom for loving others but added, “sometimes they hate people.”

“I’m sorry, I apologize. I’m trying to learn,” Mr. Trump said. “It’s not easy. When they impeach you for nothing, and then you’re supposed to like them, it’s not easy, folks. I do my best.”

A co-host of the breakfast, Rep. Tom Suozzi, New York Democrat, said, ” ‘Love your enemies’ is a tough message. Not everybody seems to get it yet, but we’re going to work on it.”

The president thanked Republican lawmakers who voted against impeachment, saying “courageous Republican politicians and leaders had the wisdom fortitude and strength to do what everyone knows was right.

The president recited his support for freedom of religion, his pro-life policies and his support for prayer in schools.

“You’d better get out and vote on Nov. 3, you have a lot of people out there who are liking what we’re doing,” the president said.

A grinning Mr. Trump held aloft front-page newspaper headlines proclaiming him “acquitted” when he entered the ballroom for the breakfast at the Washington Hilton to applause, including from Mrs. Pelosi. Upon reaching his seat on the dais, Mr. Trump picked up a copy of USA Today from the table and held up the front page to show the audience the banner headline “Acquitted” above his photo.

The crowd applauded louder.

He then held up a copy of The Washington Post with the headline “Trump Acquitted.”

Mrs. Pelosi was seated on the opposite side of the dais and came to the podium to offer a prayer. She didn’t acknowledge the president, in their first encounter since she ripped up a copy of his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

Reading from several pages of paper, Mrs. Pelosi prayed for those persecuted across the globe, including journalists in Saudi Arabia. She prayed that “we treat everyone with dignity and respect.”

When she finished, she turned away from the podium and returned to her seat without looking at Mr. Trump.

Rep. John Moolenaar, Michigan Republican and one of the hosts of the breakfast, told the president, “We want this to be a blessing for you. We want to let you know there are people from all over the world here who have been praying for you.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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