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Meet the new Trump, same as the old Trump



The morning after his acquittal in the Senate, Trump attended the National Prayer Breakfast, where political opponents have always set aside their differences. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged the assembled to “raise our voices in prayer as one.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) prayed for his colleagues, including Pelosi, and said God couldn’t have “picked a better day to bring us all together.”

And then there was Trump. He complained that he was “put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people.”

Referring to Mitt Romney, the lone Republican to support impeachment, Trump said, “I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong.” Referring to Pelosi, just a few feet away, he added: “Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you’ when they know that’s not so.”

Deriding expressions of faith at the prayer breakfast? Trump had a couple of hours to think about whether he was doing “the right thing” — and he decided he was!

He gathered Republican lawmakers in the East Room of the White House, the chamber where Abraham Lincoln met Ulysses S. Grant and where John F. Kennedy and six other presidents lay in state. There, Trump renewed his mockery of the faith of Romney and Pelosi.

“I had Nancy Pelosi sitting four seats away, and I’m saying things that a lot of people wouldn’t have said, but I meant every word of it,” he said, calling her “a horrible person” and again deriding her for saying she prays for Trump. “She doesn’t pray. She may pray, but she prays for the opposite. But I doubt she prays at all.”

And Romney? “You have some that used religion as a crutch. They never used it before,” he said of the devout Mormon. Trump derided the 2012 Republican nominee as “a failed presidential candidate.” He said to tell the people of Utah that “I’m sorry about Mitt Romney.”

The Republicans applauded.

He described his political opponents and government bureaucrats as “bad,” “dirty,” “horrible,” “evil,” “sick,” “corrupt,” “scum,” “leakers,” “liars,” “vicious,” “mean,” “lowlifes,” “non-people,” “stone-cold crazy” and “the crookedest, most dishonest, dirtiest people I’ve ever seen.”

In what was billed as an address to the nation, Trump declared to every American man, woman and child: “It was all bullshit.”

Given license to be licentious, he sprinkled in several more forms of coarse speech. Of the former FBI director and deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, he said: “When I fired that sleazebag, all hell broke out.”

He attacked the federal courts that review national security cases: “The FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] courts should be ashamed of themselves.” He veered into fantasy, saying of the shooting at a congressional baseball practice, “I saw the whole thing,” — though he most certainly had not. He detoured into the bizarre, saying “a lot of wives wouldn’t give a damn” if their husbands were shot and on the verge of death.

It was, in sum, a thorough repudiation of Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Joni Ernst (Iowa) and others who claimed that Trump had learned his lesson, that he had somehow grown because of the impeachment experience.

“We went through hell, unfairly, did nothing wrong — did nothing wrong,” Trump proclaimed in the East Room. He added: “That was a totally appropriate call. I call it a perfect call, because it was.” Those who “need” to claim otherwise are “totally incorrect,” he said.

In Trump’s account, his Republican allies are “warriors” for him, “in battle and war” against “dirty cops,” the “FBI lovers” and “fake dossiers.” He praised Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) because he “got James Comey to choke.” He praised Sen. Kelly Loeffler (Ga.) for being “downright nasty and mean” in his defense.

And he praised himself — because he had “one of the greatest wins of all time,” because he “topped” Andrew Jackson for running in the “nastiest” campaign, and because the GOP is more spirited under him than under Lincoln.

He made up words. He made up facts. He talked about a Yankee second-baseman from the 1950s. He said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) is “very proud of his body.” He said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) got her job because “I liked the name Lesko.”

After an hour, Trump invited others to speak.

“We’ve got your back,” offered Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.)

The Republicans applauded.

They will not change, either.

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