BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — “By the way, it doesn’t feel like we’re getting impeached,” President Donald Trump said at the start of his Merry Christmas rally in Battle Creek Wednesday evening.
During his speech, the House of Representatives voted to impeach the president on two articles: obstruction of justice and abuse of power. After the first article was passed, the president continued talking about how his administration bolstered the economy. But an hour into the speech, Trump seemingly read out the results of the impeachment vote on Article II.
“So, we got every single Republican voting for us. So, we had 198, 229. We didn’t lose one Republican vote. And three Democrats voted for us,” he said to loud cheers in the arena. He then continued his critique of the impeachment.
“They’ve cheapened the impeachment process," he said. "This is a sacred position. Anybody who becomes president, they could have a phone call and they could become impeached."
A July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine is the crux of the impeachment, which will now head to the U.S. Senate for a trial. The articles of impeachment argue the president pressured Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden by threatening to withhold congressionally approved military funding, and that he then obstructed Congress during its investigation.
A few minutes after learning about the impeachment on the stage, Trump said, “I don’t know about you, but I’m having a good time” before criticizing the impeachment again.
Vice President Mike Pence and a handful of Michigan Republicans stumped for Trump. Pence addressed the impeachment proceedings.
"Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats are having their say tonight," he said as the arena booed loudly. "But the Republican Senate will have their say in January."
This was Trump's second visit to West Michigan this year, following a Grand Rapids rally in the spring. Going into 2020, Michigan is expected to be a swing state. After voting solidly Democratic for years, the state flipped in 2016 when Trump won with a margin of about 10,000 votes.
Even though Trump touted some of his main campaign talking points: the strong economy, supporting the military and immigration, impeachment was the focus of the day. It brought out crowds, both supporters and protesters of the president.
It was a microcosmic evening, where the rifts of the country were on full display. For Battle Creek resident Linda Pascoe, she is intimately familiar with this divide. Wednesday afternoon, she stood outside Kellogg Arena in bitter cold temperatures wearing an “Impeach the MF” t-shirt and holding a “Trump your (sic) fired!” sign. But Pascoe said her husband is a Trump supporter—two extremely different opinions in the same marriage.
“I do not stand for Trump or his beliefs. I think he’s immoral. I think that he definitely needs to be impeached. He is not for America. We need someone that will not put his own interests above America,” Pascoe said.
But the droves of Trump fans disagreed.
“I think it’s a national embarrassment. It’s a terrible disgrace,” said Rex Hollinger, who was visiting from Florida. “Not at all what the Constitution had in mind, not what the framers had in mind. I think they absolutely thwarted all the original intent.”
And right as hundreds, if not thousands, of Trump supporters were turned away from entering the arena, a crowd of protesters met them at the doors.
The capacity inside the arena was 5,400, the fire marshal in Battle Creek said. The rest of those wanting to hear the president could watch the speech on a jumbo screen outside the arena where frigid temperatures reached 14 degrees.
But as the doors closed to the crowds, hundreds of protesters marched up Michigan Avenue to the front of the area. With hundreds of people on both sides, they clashed, yelling at each other over deep disagreements about the president.
Impeachment energized protesters and it motivated supporters.
For Tom Moran, a school bus driver from Fenton, he stood outside the arena with a handmade sign that questioned Trump's administration's tax cuts for the wealthy and Medicare cuts.
"I think the House is doing their job," he said. "The Senate, the senators, they’re supposed to be jurors. But they’re saying ‘we’re going to acquit.’ If you’re on a jury, you are supposed to listen to the evidence first. Don’t just vote with your party. Do your job.”
Roslynd Hollinger from Battle Creek said it was incredible that they were going to be in the same room as the president when the impeachment vote came down.
“We are going to be there to support him with something that’s unbelievable. I’m sad for what is going on today. He needs our support,” she explained.
Watch the full rally here:
More coverage from 13 ON YOUR SIDE:
- Quick impeachment questions answered
- House votes to impeach President Trump
- Defiant Trump rallies supporters during impeachment vote
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