“Now that the Senate has fulfilled its constitutional responsibility, bringing this process to a conclusion,” he began. “I want to say again to the American people how profoundly sorry I am for what I said and did to trigger these events, and the great burden they have imposed on the Congress and on the American people.”
Things proceeded somewhat differently Thursday, when President Trump made a rambling, hour-long speech on what he called “a day of celebration.” He spoke before a crowd of supporters, including White House officials, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republican members of Congress.
Trump repeatedly called Democrats involved in the impeachment “evil,” “corrupt” and “vicious and mean.” He railed against the Russian investigation, former FBI director James B. Comey, and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, adding, “It was all bullshit.”
There was also a sharp difference between the two presidents’ appearances at the National Prayer Breakfast. Trump cast doubt Thursday morning on statements by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that she prays for the president. He also criticized Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) for invoking his religion while supporting Trump’s conviction. Later, in his celebration speech, Trump said Romney was using his faith as “a crutch.”
For Clinton, the breakfast took place smack dab in the middle of his trial for perjury and obstruction of justice after he had attempted to hide a sexual affair.
“When we come here we set party aside, and there is absolutely no politics in this,” Clinton said to the bipartisan crowd, before making a speech largely about diplomatic peace efforts.
Eight days later, as Clinton stood before silent reporters, he continued on the peace theme.
“I am humbled and very grateful for the support and the prayers I have received from millions of Americans over this past year,” he said. “Now I ask all Americans, and I hope all Americans, here in Washington and throughout our land, will rededicate ourselves to the work of serving our nation and building our future together.”
He concluded, “This can be, and this must be, a time of reconciliation and renewal for America. Thank you very much.”
As he left the lectern, a reporter shouted a question about the partisan rancor the trial had inspired: “In your heart, sir, can you forgive and forget?”
Clinton turned back and said, “I believe any person who asks for forgiveness has to be prepared to give it.”
Total time speaking for the usually long-winded Clinton: One minute and 36 seconds.
Thursday for Trump: One hour and two minutes.
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