He turned to LSU’s Heisman-Trophy winning quarterback Joe Burrow, who smiled in the background.
“Got the greatest economy we’ve ever had, Joe,” Trump said. “We got the greatest military. We rebuilt it. We took out those terrorists like your football team would have taken out those terrorists, right? But we’re doing good.”
The House voted to impeach Trump mostly along party lines in December and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) transmitted the two articles of impeachment to the Senate on Wednesday.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. began presiding over the Senate trial on Thursday and senators were sworn in as jurors. But the trial is not set to start in earnest until Tuesday since most lawmakers have returned home to their districts for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
LSU’s football team arrived in Washington on Thursday night and joined the Louisiana congressional delegation for a celebratory dinner at the Kennedy Center. Afterward, players and coaches planned to take a bus tour of the District.
On Friday, the team was scheduled to tour the National Museum of African American History and Culture, a popular destination for championship teams visiting elected officials, before meeting with Trump and driving to the Capitol for a photo on the building’s steps.
But while the team was at the White House, Trump used some of the occasion to tout economic accomplishments of his administration. As he took the dais, he praised the stock market’s success. The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 60 points in early trading to reach an all-time high as the event began. He falsely claimed that the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a trade deal to replace the 1994 NAFTA accord, and the preliminary trade deal signed with China this week were “the two largest deals in history.”
The remarks elicited applause and whoops from the crowd, many of whom wore LSU purple and gold and held up smartphones to capture the scene on their cameras.
The Tigers defeated reigning champion Clemson, 42-25, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Trump and first lady Melania Trump attended the game and stood on the field during the national anthem. The couple watched the game from a suite and left to return to Washington before the fourth quarter. The president received a warm reception at the Superdome and was greeted by chants of “U-S-A!” and “Four more years!”
Asked which team he was rooting for, Trump replied, “Both.”
But LSU ran away with the game in the second half behind 463 passing yards and six total touchdowns from Burrow. It ended a 29-game winning streak for Clemson, which visited Trump at the White House nearly a year ago to the day.
Trump served the team a fast-food feast, since the federal government was in the midst of shutdown and the staff required to cater the event was furloughed.
“They ate so much food,” Trump joked about Clemson on Friday. “We didn’t know what the hell to do. They kept eating, and eating.”
It’s unclear if any food was served for LSU.
The Tigers arrived at the White House as only the second 15-0 team in college football’s modern era, with Burrow, the most decorated player in college football history, and Coach Ed Orgeron, the native son of the Louisiana bayou who finally found success in his third stint as a head coach.
Trump called Burrow, who transferred from Ohio State after being passed up for the starting job and transformed at LSU into the nation’s top passer, an “inspirational person.”
He joked of Burrow and wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, “He’s going to be so rich.”
“We’re looking at money,” Trump said.
Trump said he had also spoken with New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, a subject of Trump’s admiration and frequent golf partner, about Orgeron.
“He has a lot of respect for you,” Trump said. “He thinks you’re a great coach. And we know that. The results speak louder than anything I can say.”