As it happenedended1581031257

Trump news: President gloats over impeachment acquittal as White House trails ominous threat to make opponents ‘pay’

Vindictive White House 'victory' speech follows rally-like State of the Union as Democratic challengers prepare for New Hampshire

Mitt Romney to break from Republicans and vote to convict Trump on impeachment

Surrounded by his cheering allies at the White House, Donald Trump celebrated his acquittal in his impeachment trial after after appearing at the National Prayer Breakfast brandishing aloft newspaper front pages announcing Wednesday's landmark decision.

The president also used the occasion to attack House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Utah senator Mitt Romney, the lone Republican to vote "guilty" with Democrats after excoriating the president in the blistering Senate speech.

Wednesday's Senate vote on the two articles laid against him by the House of Representatives – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – was split largely along party lines with only Mr Romney daring to break ranks, denouncing the president’s “appalling abuse of public trust” in an emotional speech from the floor that earned him the ire of a vengeful Republican Party, with members calling for his expulsion and likening him to Judas Iscariot and Benedict Arnold.

At her weekly conference, Ms Pelosi criticised Mr Trump's rally-like State of the Union address as a "the compilation of falsehoods" and said she now-famously ripped up a copy of his speech to "clearly [indicate] to the American people that this is not the truth" as the president's allies applauded his remarks.

In preparation for his remarks, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham ominously told Fox News that Mr Trump planned to talk about “how horribly he was treated and that maybe people should pay for that”, suggesting a threatening remainder of his term in office following his opponents' failure to remove him. The White House also issued anti-Romney talking points attacking him as a self-serving politician with a history of flip-flopping.

Mr Trump called the Russia investigations against him as "bulls***" and attacked former FBI Director James Comey, among several targets in his address (Ms Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Robert Mueller, the FBI's "top scum" and "crookedest and most corrupt", among them).

The remarks went quickly off the rails, from reenacting the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise to praising Congressman Jim Jordan's looks, briefly addressed the leaked Access Hollywood tape in which he gloats about assaulting women, and leading standing ovations for his legal defence team and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Meanwhile, the results of the Iowa Caucus, the first state to host an election in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, are nearly complete, with 97 per cent of the vote totals showing a razor-thin delegate win for Pete Buttiegieg and a majority vote victory for Bernie Sanders, who collected more votes than his opponent.

Despite the vote totals being incomplete, Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez has pressured Iowa's party officials to review the results, following significant delays and inconsistencies after an app failure forced officials to review the vote totals manually.

The candidates are now campaigning in New Hampshire ahead of that state's primary on 11 February. The president will hold a rally in the state on 10 February.

Follow our coverage as it happened:

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Trump suggests 'sick, slippery, stealthy' Mitt Romney is undercover Democratic asset

Tom Embury-Dennis has more on Trump's Romney-bashing video last night, which pushed the scurrilous lie that the senator is "a secret asset" of the Democrats.

Whether Romney will stand firm in the face of this aggressive Trumpian bid to have him excommunicated for disloyalty or go the way of Justin Amash remains to be seen.

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AOC lashes out at 'nauseating' spectacle of Rush Limbaugh receiving Presidential Medal of Freedom at State of the Union

Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has hit out at the "nauseating" spectacle of first lady Melania Trump awarding ailing conservative icon Rush Limbaugh with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the State of the Union.

In an Instagram video, AOC describes the recipient as a "virulent racist" and that the gesture "cheapened the value" of "an extraordinarily sacred award" previously given to Rosa Parks.

For Indy Voices, Molly Jong-Fast says this is precisely the sort of bait from Trump her party should not rise to.

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'Teflon Don has walked free again - leaving frustrated Democrats back at square one'

For Indy Premium, Phil Thomas assesses the damage of yesterday's expected outcome for the opposition and warns of a "ripple effect" with potentiall severe consequences for American democracy.

"Somewhere, Richard Nixon is smiling," as Fox News's legal expert Andrew Napolitano so aptly put it on Wednesday.

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Marie Yovanovitch accuses Trump administration of 'undermining our democratic institutions' in new op-ed

The former US ambassador to Ukraine and key impeachment witness has written an editorial for The Washington Post this morning in which she describes the "malicious conspiracies" spread about her by Rudy Giuliani and attacks the freshly-acquitted president's mode of governance.

"This administration... has undermined our democratic institutions, making the public question the truth and leaving public servants without the support and example of ethical behaviour that they need to do their jobs," she writes.

Yovanovitch remains optimistic, however: "The events of the past year, while deeply disturbing, show that even though our institutions and our fellow citizens are being challenged in ways that few of us ever expected, we will endure, we will persist and we will prevail."

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President brandishes front pages declaring acquittal at National Prayer Breakfast

Trump is speaking right now at the 68th National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton in DC - the first time he's been spotted out and about since the State of the Union - and took to the stage holding up copies of USA Today and The Washington Post to show off the headlines declaring his acquittal.

Pelosi is there and reportedly she too joined in with the standing ovation he received on entry. That didn't stop him accusing her and Mitt Romney of hypocrisy over their respective faiths though...

Otherwise, it's very much been a case of business as usual.

Here's our story on that dig at his enemies.

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Hollywood reacts with dismay to Trump’s acquittal

Here's Ellie Harrison with a round-up of the celebrity reaction to El Presidente being let off the hook, featuring Mark Hamill, John Legend, Bette Midler and Don Cheadle.

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Trump's social media director recycles tired Game of Thrones meme

We've seen this before from Team Trump when the Mueller report was published and I'll bet we're looking at the president's next sassy retweet right here.

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Stephanie Grisham: Trump to argue 'people should pay' for trying to impeach him

So what might the president actually say later on during his address on the "impeachment hoax"? It's scheduled for high noon in DC (5pm GMT).

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was on Fox just now to deliver this alarming teaser trailer.

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Trump's made-for-TV State of the Union address suffers low ratings

Chris Riotta has some news for the ratings-obsessed Apprentice president that he will not like one little bit.

According to Nielsen's, Monday night's State of the Union drew 37.2m viewers across 12 networks - that's down 21 per cent on the 46.8m who watched 2019's broadcast.

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John Bolton refused to submit to House affidavit, says Adam Schiff

House impeachment manager Jerry Nadler yesterday pledged to continue investigating the president and said it was "likely" his Judiciary Committee would make a fresh approach to ex-national security adviser John Bolton after he indicated he would have complied with a Senate subpoena had one been issued ordering him to testify at the president's trial.

Bolton became a person of particular interest when a draft of his forthcoming new memoir The Room Where It Happened was leaked to The New York Times, in which he reportedly discussed Trump pressing him to help put pressure on Ukraine over the Bidens.

Speaking on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show last night, Nadler's Intelligence Committee counterpart Adam Schiff said his team had contacted Bolton earlier in the investigative stage of proceedings, only for him to decline to submit to a sworn affidavit.

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