Trump ‘victory lap’ speech capped a week in which all pretense of democracy was shredded

Susan Collins was right: Donald Trump did learn something in the course of the Senate impeachment trial. He learned that his hold on most Republican senators was even tighter than anyone had credited. It confirmed—again—that he could say or do anything at all without consequence. And he learned that he has permission to be more aggressive in demanding personal loyalty, even when that loyalty conflicts with tradition, law, or national interest. Trump’s hour-long victory-lap-cum-whine-session, in which he complained about “dirty cops,” declared that most wives would not care if their husbands were shot, and segued into 1960s baseball, was so genuinely bizarre that even invited hosts from Fox News were shocked.

"I was struck by, first of all, how perhaps Susan Collins, [felt] when she said that the president has learned from this,” said Fox News political reporter Bret Baier. “He's learned something but it probably wasn't that he was wrong. That's not what he takes away from it."

Though multiple media outlets chose to cover it end to end, allowing Trump to gloat uninterrupted and make statements that would have been bleeped if they were said on a late night talk show, the Thursday afternoon speech was not meant for a national audience. Instead, Trump gathered up select members of his staff, a smattering of those from Congress he considered most loyal, and some favored conservative media. That meant not only that there were no questions allowed, but also that there was no Mitt Romney. Or Susan Collins. No one without a sub-Devin Nunes level of willingness to engage in public distortion and personal abasement was welcome in that room.

Buoyed by being surrounded by only the best of the bootlickers, Trump had no problem opening up with an admission that he had started his time in office by obstructing justice. “Had I not fired James Comey,” said Trump, “it’s possible I wouldn’t even be standing here right now.”

But the victory speech didn’t stand alone. It was just one of three speeches that Trump delivered in a week that showed just how far the world has tilted on its axis since Republicans made it clear that authoritarian was absolutely their preferred flavor for the next 1,000 years.

On Thursday morning, Trump attended the National Prayer Breakfast. Traditionally, this is an event at which politicians express their thanks for all the blessings bestowed on the nation and their contrition for their own failings, and make clear that they share fundamental beliefs with those across the aisle. Trump did the opposite of all that. He complained that he had been abused, denied that he had done anything wrong, attacked Nancy Pelosi, who was seated four feet away from him, and accused both the Catholic Pelosi and the Mormon Mitt Romney of being heretics who lacked any real faith. Trump didn’t quite repeat his claim that he had never asked God for forgiveness. He didn’t need to.

Both of these speeches followed a Tuesday night State of the Union address that was one part prying open the political divide, one part the reddest of red meat, and one part sleazy game show. But then, it was 100% a demonstration of his authoritarian reign. Trump dismissed the idea of public education, then displayed his royal largesse by tossing one little girl a scholarship. He sent thousands of soldiers off to be mercenaries for another authoritarian regime, but deigned to allow one to come home as a “heartwarming” surprise. He attacked everyone who supported immigrants, repeatedly used the term “criminal aliens” and … that’s it. There was not even a crumb of humanity on that point. Just wall. To underline this, Trump had the always-scowling Melania drop a ribbon around the neck of premier racist, misogynist, and xenophobe Rush Limbaugh.

At the SOTU, Trump made it clear—he would do what he wanted. Give when he felt like it. Punishment and reward are his to bestow. At the National Prayer Breakfast, he made it clear that he doesn’t care who is on God’s side, because he feels that God is on his side. With an unlimited supply of lightning bolts. And back at the White House, Trump made it clear: Only those who are consistent in their service to him are worthy to be admitted into his court. His countenance shines only on those who are unwavering in placing what’s good for Trump first, no matter what.

Republicans give Pelosi just what she wanted with outrage over ripped up State of the Union

Republicans really, really want Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ripping up of Donald Trump’s State of the Union address to be A Very Big Thing. They desperately need to frame her act of incivility as equal to or worse than all of Trump’s trespasses against democracy and decency, especially in the wake of Sen. Mitt Romney denying them their narrative of a purely partisan impeachment. (And yeah, they want to retaliate against him, too.)

Rep. Matt Gaetz is leading the asshat charge by filing an ethics complaint against Pelosi with, get this, the claim that “Nobody is above the law.” Gaetz is calling for a criminal referral, claiming that Pelosi violated a statute dealing with “Concealment, removal, or mutilation of documents,” as if every single physical copy of a document is sacred. This temper tantrum about Pelosi tearing up a document is especially special given that—as Dana Houle pointed out on Twitter—Trump is known tear up papers after he finishes with them, in violation of the Presidential Records Act.

Gaetz isn’t the only Republican in high dudgeon about Pelosi, of course. Rep. Kay Granger is touting a privileged resolution expressing disapproval for Pelosi’s “breach of decorum.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tried his hand at a viral video ripping up the impeachment articles and saying “acquitted for life.” 

But Mike Pence had the creepiest take, telling Fox News that “I just have a strong feeling that she's going to be the last Speaker of the House to sit in that chair for a long time.” Which could just mean he understands that Democrats are going to keep the House and Pelosi will remain speaker, but it sounds more like he’s joining Trump in having some extremely unconstitutional things in mind.

Pence aside, you wonder if these Republicans realize how much they’re playing into Pelosi’s hands. She surely did not rip up that paper live on national television without knowing exactly the response it would draw—which means she was inviting their ethics complaints and resolutions of disapproval, shifting attention from Trump to her reaction to Trump. So Gaetz and Granger and all their buddies should feel free to bring it. It couldn’t be clearer that Pelosi welcomes their outrage.

The Democrats respond to Trump’s State of the Union

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has designated rising star Democratic women to provide the Democratic response to the State of the Union. Michigan's first-term Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is delivering the English-language response. Rep. Veronica Escobar, a freshman representing El Paso, Texas, is delivering the Spanish-language response.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:33:29 AM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Whitmer begins by noting that she’s at her daughter’s public school, which is quite the contrast with Trump’s attacks on public education.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:35:48 AM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Whitmer is going with optimism over Trump’s message of fear, with the importance of potholes and infrastructure and what Democrats like Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy are doing about it.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:36:48 AM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

“Bullying people on Twitter doesn’t fix bridges—it burns them.”

Whitmer then turns to health care and her time as a member of the sandwich generation, caring for her own baby and for her mother during her mother’s fight with cancer.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:39:15 AM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Whitmer goes on to emphasize teens who’ve raised money for medical treatment for themselves or their loved ones. “No one should have to crowdsource their health care. Not in America.”

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:39:53 AM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

Have to say, a lot of the time the role of the SOTU response is a kiss of death for a rising politician, but Whitmer feels really strong here.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:41:20 AM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

“Michigan invented the middle class, so we know: if the economy doesn’t work for working people, it just doesn’t work.” Whitmer goes on to tout House Democrats’ legislation to raise the minimum wage and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. She takes that right home to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:42:37 AM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

If there’s a Democratic governor who isn’t getting a shout out here, that person must be pretty unhappy, because this is a strong litany of actions Democratic governors have taken for working families.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:44:13 AM +00:00 · Laura Clawson

On impeachment: “The truth matters. Facts matter. And no one should be above the law.”

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:48:25 AM +00:00 · Gabe Ortiz

Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas, delivering the Spanish-language Democratic response, addresses the white supremacist terrorist attack that devastated her community:

“On August 3rd of last year, El Paso suffered from the deadliest targeted attack against Latinos in American history.  A domestic terrorist confessed to driving over 10 hours to target Mexicans and immigrants.  Just before he began his killing spree, he posted his views online and used hateful language like the very words used by President Trump to describe immigrants and Latinos.

That day, the killer took 22 innocent lives, injured dozens, and broke all of our hearts.

Incidents of gun violence take place in our schools, places of worship and neighborhoods every single day.”

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:49:14 AM +00:00 · Gabe Ortiz

Rep. Escobar on Trump’s lawlessness and the need to continue fighting for accountability:

“We know that President Trump violated his oath by asking for foreign interference, jeopardizing the integrity of our elections, putting our national security at risk, and then attempting to cover up his wrongdoing.    

This is a tragic moment, and Congress must defend our republic. 

We Democrats will continue to fight for truth and for what is right.

No one is above the law.”

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:50:50 AM +00:00 · Gabe Ortiz

Rep. Escobar: “From attacks against Dreamers, family separation, the deaths of migrant children, to the Remain in Mexico policy that sends asylum seekers into dangerous situations. These are policies none of us ever imagined would happen in America in our lifetime. 

I remember seeing the Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island for the first time.  I was in awe of Lady Liberty.  She stands as the guardian of our ideals—that all people are created equal, that the vulnerable are to be cared for and not shunned, and that America is the shining example of goodness.  

It is up to all of us—in the face of one of the most challenging times in history—to reflect the dignity, grace of Lady Liberty and the values of America.”

Live coverage of impeached president’s State of the Union speech, #2

The bad reading job of "meticulous and carefully honed" words appearing on a teleprompter by impeached president Donald Trump continues.

Chat amongst yourselves about it here. Watch on every national broadcast channel, the cable news channels, C-SPAN, or your choice of news outlets on YouTube.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:06:01 AM +00:00 · Barbara Morrill

Ongoing coverage can be found here.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:38:38 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

He actually says this. "NO PARENT should be forced to send their child to a failing government school.” Government. School. Fuck you, impeached president. And fuck you more for exploiting a young person of color in this.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:39:58 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

The announcement on a scholarship for Janiyah Davis was not in Trump's prepared remarks

— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) February 5, 2020

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:40:34 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter Secretary of Education standing up, smiling and applauding him talking about failing government schools.  Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:42:46 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

You knew that was coming—protecting patients with pre-existing conditions. WHILE HE’S SUING IN FEDERAL COURT TO HAVE IT DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:43:06 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Also, he’s trying to take away people’s Social Security disability.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:45:16 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

WALK OUT DEMOCRATS. WALK OUT RIGHT NOW!

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:47:22 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Pelosi mouths "Not true" twice when Trump asserted Democrats wanted to give taxpayer funded health care to undocumented immigrants

— John Bresnahan (@BresPolitico) February 5, 2020

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:48:00 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

They should really walk out of the room, but this is something.

Dems are now chanting HR 3 � their drug pricing bill. Trump is trying to talk over them

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) February 5, 2020

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:50:03 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Rush. Fucking. Limbaugh. Rush. Fucking. Limbaugh.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:52:36 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

So, Susan Collins, about that Trump learning from being impeached and modifying his behavior. What do you say tonight?

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:54:23 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Melania Trump giving racist Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the same #SOTU speech where Trump tries to use black people as props for his political agenda is offensive.

— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 5, 2020

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:56:17 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Now we’re onto the forced birther part of the speech. After he touted taking food away from 7 million people. Cuz he’s pro-life.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:58:02 AM +00:00 · Gabe Ortiz

None of the Republicans who are standing up to clap for anti-abortions legislation did anything when there were babies in cages and dying at the hands of ICE and CBP. That tells you everything you need to know about their "values" #SOTU

— Bruna B. Sollod (@brunasollod) February 5, 2020

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 2:58:04 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Oh, hey. It’s infrastructure week again.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:02:03 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

We’re back to the horrifically racist shit and reveling in gore and violence again, to talk about immigration and sanctuary cities. Fucking monster.

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:02:24 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter A rapist talking about how awful another rapist is. Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:02:36 AM +00:00 · Gabe Ortiz

Trump back to scaring folks about so-called “sanctuary cities.” The truth: 

These policies don�t give immigrants special protections; they ensure they have basic constitutional rights that can�t be trampled on and focus law enforcement resources on protecting local communities instead of on jailing families and separating children.#sotu #sotu2020

— Battle Born Progress (@BattleBornProg) February 5, 2020

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:03:04 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

these illegal alien snuff film incitement passages are always a disgrace

— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) February 5, 2020

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:03:28 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

We are now onto late-term abortion and we've lost another Democratic congressmember. @RepSpeier has left the chamber, folks. �

— Kadia Goba (@kadiagoba) February 5, 2020

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:04:10 AM +00:00 · Gabe Ortiz

We are hearing, again, as in previous #SOTU, horrible stories that distort a reality � immigrants, with or without papers, commit less crime than people born in the United States.

— Monica Campbell (@monica_campbell) February 5, 2020

Wednesday, Feb 5, 2020 · 3:05:19 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

Do you suppose Trump will next talk about all the people killed and hurt by the massive rise in white supremacist violence. No? Okay. #SOTU

— Arshad Hasan (@ArshadHasan) February 5, 2020

Trump, ‘deeply gifted orator’ his staff says, delivers the State of the Union address Tuesday night

So this is happening as scheduled, even though this is already the worst week of the century and the last thing anyone needs. Impeached president Donald Trump will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 9 PM ET. It will be on every network as well as the regular cable news outlets and C-SPAN. You can watch and mock along with your friends here at Daily Kos, as well.

The White House is setting expectations insanely high as totalitarian regimes do, for this coming tour de force penned by dear leader himself. "The president is a best-selling author and deeply gifted orator who packs arenas and has a meticulous and carefully honed method for writing his speeches," Hogan Gidley, a White House lackey, said in a statement, "whether it be at a rally, a manufacturing plant opening or the State of the Union. What the American people hear is 100 percent President Trump's own words." That last sentence is possibly true.

Those "carefully honed" words will probably be about the economy, maybe about the coronavirus, probably about the new trade agreement, the United States Mexico Canada Agreement replacing NAFTA, and possibly the trade deal just signed with China. He may stay on script and ignore impeachment. He may do anything because when you're a celebrity, you can do anything.

The Democratic responses will come from rising-star Democratic women. Michigan's first-term Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will deliver the English-language response. Rep. Veronica Escobar, a freshman representing El Paso, Texas, will deliver the Spanish-language response.

Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language Democratic response to State of the Union

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have announced that Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas will deliver the Spanish-language Democratic response to Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech next month.

“In the House of Representatives, she is making a difference for El Pasoans and for all Americans, as she fights to end the gun violence epidemic and to protect children and families at the southwest border,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Her values and vision beautifully represent our party and our country, and we look forward to hearing her positive message of progress.”

As noted by Pelosi in the statement, Escobar made history as one of the first Latinas to be elected to represent Texas in Congress, alongside her colleague (and manager in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial) Rep. Sylvia Garcia. Like many of her freshman colleagues, Escobar has made a powerful mark in Congress during her first year in office. 

Following the white supremacist terror attack in El Paso last year, Escobar filled the presidential void to become a comforter-in-chief to her distraught community while condemning the kind of rhetoric that influenced the attack. When Trump asked her to join him during his visit to El Paso, she declined, saying, “I refuse to be an accessory.” Escobar has also been a compassionate advocate for immigrant families, and has helped lead investigations into some of the most harmful anti-immigrant policies from the Trump administration. 

This past November, Escobar was elected by her colleagues as the newest member of the House Democratic leadership team. “Congresswoman Escobar’s election to the Democratic House leadership is monumental for Latino representation in Congress,” Latino Victory Project said at the time. “Since day one, Escobar established herself as a steadfast, hard-working leader in the freshman class, whose penchant for consensus-building did not go unnoticed.”

“I am honored to be delivering the Democratic Spanish-language response to President Trump’s State of the Union and look forward to addressing our nation on the progress Democrats have made For the People,” said Escobar in the statement.  “Our diversity is our strength.  Now more than ever, Democrats will continue to celebrate our diversity, defend our democracy, and work for a more equal and just nation.”