In his first rally since Robert Mueller completed his probe and the president learned it had apparently cleared him of colluding with Russia, Mr Trump basked in constant applause as he lashed out at the media, Democratic politicians and the “deep state”.
“This has been an incredible couple of weeks for America,” he said, adding that Isis had been defeated and that the economy was growing.
Referring to the completion of Mr Mueller’s report, he said: “The collusion delusion is over. The Russia hoax is finally dead. … This was nothing more than a sinister effort to undermine our historic election victory and to sabotage the will of the American people.”
Describing Democrat Adam Schiff’s claims that there may indeed have been collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the president said: “Sick! Sick! These are sick people.”
In a fired-up appearance in the city of Grand Rapids, the location of his final appearance during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Trump indicated how he intended to campaign for 2020 – by attacking his critics, making grandiose and often false claims, and energising supporters by seizing on issues such as immigration.
During the course of the 90-minute speech, he claimed his election win over Hillary Clinton had been possibly the greatest in history, and that a wall on the Mexican border would be built.
“The wall is being built. We had to go down a somewhat different path,” he said to shrieks of delight. “It does not matter – national emergency.
“Robert Mueller was a god to Democrats, he was a god to them. Now they don’t like him much.
“The Democrats now have to decide if they want to keep defrauding the public with ridiculous bull**** and partisan investigations, or whether they will apologise to the American people and join us.”
Reports said that many of those packed into the Van Andel Arena had started lining up the night before, with some camping out.
Saundra Kiczenski, who was among the first in line, told the Associated Press she had never felt the same kind of enthusiasm from the crowd as she awaited her 25th Trump rally. She said he expected the president would take a chance to revel in the fact the Mueller investigation was over.
“He’s just going to be on fire,” she said.
Last weekend, attorney general William Barr sent to Congress a four-page summary of Mr Mueller’s investigation into Moscow’s alleged interference and accusations it had been assisted by members of the Trump campaign.
The summary claimed that in his report, Mr Mueller said he had not found a direct link between Moscow’s efforts and the Trump campaign. On the issue of whether the president had obstructed efforts to investigate possible collusion, he set out the case for and against in regard to several incidents.
In turn, Mr Barr and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, decided the president’s actions did not constitute a crime.
Before Mr Trump launched his attack against those he claimed had pushed for an investigation because they could not accept his 2016 victory, the crowd was warmed up by the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.
“This week’s vindication of my father, of me, of our family: it’s not just our vindication, it’s your vindication,” said Mr Trump Jr, who is likely to play a leading role in his father’s re-election campaign next year.
“You own that with us. Because you stuck by us. You knew it was nonsense. You knew my father was fighting for all of you.”
Among those whom the president attacked on Thursday evening was Democratic congressman Mr Schiff. On Thursday, Republicans on the House of Representative’s intelligence committee called for his resignation, saying he had pushed a demonstrably false narrative by continuing to investigate the president’s ties to Russia.
Mr Schiff said: “My colleagues may think it’s okay that the Russians offered dirt on a Democratic candidate for president as part of what was described as part of the Russian government’s effort to help the Trump campaign. … You might say that’s just what you need to do to win. But I don’t think it’s okay.”
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