US President Donald Trump used what was billed a “homecoming” rally in Sunrise, Florida on Tuesday night to rail against the impeachment investigation underway against him in the House of Representatives, and the Democratic politicians who are leading it.
Revelling in his newly minted status as a full-time Florida resident, Trump addressed his supporters for about 90 minutes saying:
“First it was the Russia hoax … now the same Democrats are pushing the derangement impeachment. Ridiculous. They’re pushing this witch-hunt. Everyone’s saying that’s really bullsh*t,” he added, to a crowd of about 20,000.
“The Ukrainian foreign minister stated, and I quote, Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and certainly did not tell me, about a connection between the assistance and the investigations…I have never had a direct link between investigations and security assistance," NBC news quotes Trump saying at the rally.
"OK, what that means, you know what it means, it means we did zero. We did nothing wrong,” said Trump.
The president continued berating the Democrats:
"And a lot of bad things are happening to them. Because you see what's happening in the polls?”
Trump predicted the impeachment hearings would sour support for the Democratic Party in next year’s presidential election, both nationally and in Florida.
“The crazy Democrats are going down in a landslide. And that landslide is going to start right here in the great state of Florida,” he said.
He added that the Democrats just want to "rip our nation apart."
Trump claimed that he "won these last two weeks solidly," and people were saying the whole impeachment matter is "really bulls*t."
In September, Trump officially changed his primary residence from Manhattan to Palm Beach, Florida, and he said he was looking forward to voting in the Sunshine State.
New Twist in Impeachment Saga
Ahead of the rally, a report in the New York Times claimed US President Donald Trump had already been briefed regarding a whistle-blower’s complaint about his dealings with Ukraine when he unfroze military aid for that country in September.
In a parallel development, closed-door transcripts were released alleging that two Office of Management and Budget staffers quit over frustrations about the hold on security assistance to Ukraine.
The House Intelligence Committee released the transcript of the testimony as Democrats were pushing forward with the next phase of their probe.
On Tuesday the House Judiciary Committee announced its first hearing next week and invited Trump’s legal team to participate.
Trump Impeachment Probe
In September, House Democrats initiated an impeachment probe after a whistleblower alleged that Donald Trump had abused the power of his office in a 25 July phone call with Ukraine’s President, allegedly pressuring him to pursue a probe into former US Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, claiming that the US president withheld nearly $400 million in military aid seeking a "quid pro quo" arrangement with Kiev - a charge Republicans deny.
Trump promptly declassified what the White House claims is the full, unedited transcript of his telephone call with Zelensky, as he insisted there was nothing wrong in his dealings with Ukraine, dismissing accusations levelled against him as a political "witch hunt" by Democrats.
Swing State of Florida
Trump is neck and neck with his top Democratic rivals in Florida, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average.
While Trump is trailing former Vice President Joe Biden by 2 percentage points, Trump is tied with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and he is beating Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg by about 1 percentage point.
The nation’s swing state of Florida is a key prize in the chase for the White House, with 29 electoral college votes at stake.
In 2016 Donald Trump won Florida by fewer than 113,000 of the 9.4m votes cast.