When it was time for the president to speak, Trump ignored the tone set by Washington Post columnist Arthur Brooks, who spoke just before him. According to Vox, Brooks addressed the audience with traditional Christian themes, telling them to “love your enemies” and transcend “contempt.”
Then Trump took to the podium at the usually nonpartisan event, held on Thursday in Washington, DC, and told the columnist that he had it wrong, “Arthur, I don’t know if I agree with you.”
“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,” Trump said. “They have done everything possible to destroy us, and in so doing, have very badly hurt our nation. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they have put themselves far ahead of our great country.”
With Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the dais, Trump also seemed to warn the religious gathering of coming retribution for the way he was treated, saying, “So many people have been hurt, and we can’t let that go on.”
Trump then took a veiled swipe at Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who just the day before voted to convict the president while evoking his faith, saying, “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,”
Although the occasion is usually not used for boasting, Trump unsurprisingly went there anyway, touting stock market gains and the economy, saying, “Our country has never done better than it is doing right now. Our economy is the strongest it has ever been. And for those of you that are interested in stocks, it looks like the stock market will be way up again today.”
Trump ended the speech essentially excusing his vindictive tone. “When they impeach you for nothing and then you’re supposed to like them, it’s not easy folks. I do my best,” he said.