Bringing Grievances to His Conservative Base, Trump Assails Impeachment Inquiry

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WASHINGTON — President Trump on Saturday night took his post-impeachment message of grievance and political warfare directly to the religious right, telling a group of social conservatives that Democrats were trying to undo the results of the 2016 campaign and “stop our movement and impose their agenda by any means necessary.”

For the third consecutive night, Mr. Trump delivered a version of his combative response to the formal beginning of an impeachment inquiry declared last month by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, this time during an official presidential speech at the Values Voter Summit, an annual gathering of social conservatives in Washington.

“I think she hates our country,” Mr. Trump said of Ms. Pelosi. “If she didn’t hate our country, she wouldn’t be doing this to our country. It’s a fraud.” After months of restraint, Ms. Pelosi last month charged Mr. Trump with betraying the nation’s security by seeking to enlist a foreign government to damage a political rival for his own gain.

Mr. Trump’s remarks came after two nights of raucous campaign rallies, one in the progressive city of Minneapolis, and another in the deep-red district of Lake Charles, La. But at an official White House event on Saturday night, Mr. Trump delivered an almost indistinguishable message from behind a podium with a presidential seal.

“I never thought I’d see or hear that word with regard to me,” Mr. Trump said. “Impeachment. To me, it’s an ugly word. It means so much; it means horrible, horrible crimes and things. I can’t even believe it.”

From the start, the gathering was a chance for the president to frame the fast-moving impeachment inquiry as the latest chapter of a continuing effort by Democrats to damage him. At the event put on by the Family Research Council, Mr. Trump was introduced with a prayer for the Lord to “expose and reverse the plans of those who would hurt President Trump.”

Mr. Trump, who spoke for well over an hour on Saturday night, described himself as the innocent victim of a partisan conspiracy. “First, it was the Russia hoax,” he said. “Then it was the outrageous smearing of Justice Kavanaugh.” Mr. Trump said that “now it is the outrageous impeachment” and added that “the hateful spirit that consumes the modern left violates every tenet of the American tradition.”

Later on Saturday night, Mr. Trump also gave a phone interview to the Fox News host Jeanine Pirro, making him one of the sole and omnipresent voices in the White House mounting a defense of his actions and an assault on Democrats as the impeachment inquiry barrels forward.

Last weekend, Trump administration officials were absent from the cable news shows. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have TV interviews scheduled for Sunday.

But Mr. Trump has emerged, so far, as something of a one-man war room setting the tone for the White House’s rebuttal to a constitutional and political showdown that could reshape his presidency and his legacy.

On Saturday night, Mr. Trump did not attack former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., who is a central character in the House impeachment inquiry, which is investigating Mr. Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine’s president to come up with damaging information about the former vice president.

But he singled out Ms. Pelosi, as well as Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, a favorite progressive foil he likes to hold up as an avatar for her party. “Look at Omar, have you seen what she says?” Mr. Trump said, accusing her of harboring deep anti-Semitic sentiments. “She meant it much more so than even her words,” he said. He also accused Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, of “lying and cheating” and said he had instructed his lawyers to sue him as a public relations gambit.

“I told my lawyers, sue him anyway, even if we lose the American public will understand,” he said.

Mr. Trump reverted to the coarse language he has employed in arena rally settings, even as he spoke in front of a religious audience. “Other countries are looking at us like, what the hell is going on in the United States,” he said.

But he promised the audience that he would continue to defend religious liberty and that “we will win massive victories for family, faith — just like the victory we had in 2016.”