GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—In his first rally since special counsel Robert Mueller wrapped up his nearly 2-year-long investigation, President Donald Trump returned to familiar ground—the campaign trail—where he put those behind the investigation in the spotlight.
“After 3 years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead. The collusion delusion is over,” Trump told 12,000 supporters in the Van Andel Arena.
The stage was set with a giant American flag as a backdrop, flanked with banners reading “Jobs Jobs Jobs!”—a different tone from Trump’s opening rally of the year in El Paso, Texas, which read “Finish the Wall.”
Donald Trump Jr., who spoke right before his father struck a victorious tone: “It’s not just our vindication it’s your vindication…. Because you stuck by us.”
The first thing the president addressed was his vindication via the Mueller report, which concluded that he and his campaign associates did not collude or coordinate with Russia in efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
The president then swiftly shifted his focus to the Democrats and perpetrators of the Russian investigation, calling it a “sinister effort” after refusing to accept the results of the 2016 election.
“Their fraud has been exposed and the credibility of those who pushed this hoax is forever broken,” Trump said. “And they’ve now got big problems.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was one of the most prominent voices among the Democratic Party that pushed the collusion claims. He claimed on television that “there’s plenty of evidence of collusion or conspiracy in plain sight.”
Trump called Schiff “sick” and “not a long ball hitter.” He gave the same description to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
The president and Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have called for Schiff’s resignation.
The president also made reference to the so-called Steele dossier which was at the heart of the allegations that he colluded with Russia.
“All of the current and former officials who paid for, promoted, and perpetuated the single greatest hoax in the history of politics in our country, they have to be accountable,” Trump said.
“Just think of it, a fake dirty dossier, millions of millions of dollars paid for it by who? Crooked Hillary Clinton, the DNC, and the Democratic Party.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced on March 25 that his committee will investigate alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which resulted in the yearlong surveillance of a former Trump-campaign associate.
Graham called on Barr to appoint a second special counsel to scrutinize the events that led to the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign.
On the same note, Trump said America is not a country that can “criminalize political differences.”
“We do not abuse the law enforcement and intelligence power to target our political opponents,” he said. “We can’t have two different standards of justice in our country, one with the left-wing radical establishment that can get away with everything they want.”
Throughout his hour-long speech, Trump repeated a line to summarize the investigation: “The single, greatest political hoax in our country.”
Barr’s four-page summary to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate judiciary committees said that the special counsel interviewed approximately 500 witnesses, executed almost 500 search warrants, issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, obtained more than 230 orders for communications records, and authorized nearly 50 pen registers.
The president’s response to the Russian investigation appeared to be the focal point of the rally but he also touched on the usual highlights, including the strong economy, positive stock market, low unemployment, border security, and his criticism of socialist policies.
He said the Democratic Party needs to decide whether to continue “defrauding the public” or to apologize to Americans over the Russian investigation.
He called on them to join him to “rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, bring down the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs… help us fix our broken trade deals.”
Trump also brought up “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, who staged a racist, anti-gay attack in January, but whose charges were dropped by Chicago’s Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who defended the decision on March 27.
In the fake incident, Smollett claimed two Trump supporters beat him up, put a noose around his neck, poured bleach on him, and yelled “This is MAGA country.”
The president called the whole incident a “terrible situation” at the rally. “That’s an embarrassment not only to Chicago, that is an embarrassment to our country.”