Trump was holding a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich., that just so happened to be underway as the House made him the third impeached president in history. In his speech, Trump declared that a series of impeachment advocates had wronged him. He did so not because the evidence was insufficient, mind you, but because he thought he had bought their support.
The most striking moment came when he complained about Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell (D). Dingell is the widow of the longest-serving member of the House ever, former congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.), who died early this year. And like just about every other Democrat in the House, she voted to impeach Trump.
Trump apparently felt that wasnt right, though, because he had allowed for John Dingell to have A-plus memorial services, including by lowering flags to half-staff.
So she calls me up: Its the nicest thing thats ever happened, thank you so much, Trump said at the rally, imitating Debbie Dingells voice. John would be so thrilled. Hes looking down.’ ‘I said, Thats okay. Dont worry about it.
Then Trump added: Maybe hes looking up. I dont know.
Elsewhere in the speech, Trump also pointed to two New York Democrats to whom hed donated over the years and suggested it wasnt right for them to support impeachment.
He said he wanted the money hed given to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) back. I used to be a big contributor. He used to kiss my ass, Charles E. Schumer. Hed do anything. He would have done anything for me, Trump said, adding: They act so pompous. They act so righteous.
He said something similar about Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.). Its so disappointing, he said. I see a woman Carolyn Maloney shes a longtime nothing-much. Shes a congresswoman from Manhattan, [the] East Side.
He added: I made lots of contributions years and years and years. The first person I see: Carolyn B. Maloney I raise my hand to impeach.’ Well, give me back the damn money that Ive been paying her for so many years.
That last comment is particularly telling about the transaction Trump thought he was entering into when he donated: I gave you money, so you dont vote against me. But its also the clear implication of his comments about Schumer and the Dingells. Trump the billionaire thought he should have bought Schumers and Maloneys devotion with his money. And he thought he had bought it from the Dingells with his powers as president. Theres really no other way to read it. Trump isnt allowing for them to have voted like they did according to the evidence and their consciences.
Debbie Dingell responded in a tweet Wednesday night.
Mr. President, lets set politics aside. My husband earned all his accolades after a lifetime of service. Im preparing for the first holiday season without the man I love. You brought me down in a way you can never imagine and your hurtful words just made my healing much harder.
— Rep. Debbie Dingell (@RepDebDingell) December 19, 2019
Its not the first time Trump has suggested such a thing nor is it the first time he might have suggested a foe was in hell. He arguably did the same this summer with John McCain. (He said of his GOP foes leaving the Senate: Fortunately, theyre gone now. Theyve gone on to greener pastures or perhaps far less green pastures. Some questioned whether Trump was referring to McCains death, given he could have been referring to a couple GOP retirees. But Wednesdays events indicate such a suggestion is very much in his repertoire.)
This might, however, be the most concentrated sequence of Trump complaining about what he views as political debts purchased with his own money or power going unpaid. When he ran for president, he noted that he played the game of trying to buy influence with politicians, but he also suggested that was what was wrong with the political system in this country.
Asked in an August 2015 Republican debate about his donations to Democrats, Trump said, I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people. Before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And you know what? When I need something from them, two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me. And thats a broken system.
Four-plus years later, Trump as president is lamenting that this broken system broke down for him.