‘Punched out his ticket to hell.’ Trump touts al-Baghdadi raid, slams Democrats on impeachment

John Fritze and David Jackson


Published 10: 10 PM EDT Nov 1, 2019

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump described a vote this week by House Democrats to formalize their impeachment inquiry as “bringing shame” on the chamber, signaling how he intends to frame the issue to his supporters in coming months.

“Yesterday’s vote by the radical Democrats is an attack on democracy itself,” Trump told supporters in Tupelo, Mississippi, where he held his first rally since the high-profile House vote Thursday. “But I’ll tell you, the Republicans are really strong, the strongest I’ve ever seen them, the most unified I’ve ever seen them.”

The House voted Thursday nearly along party lines to adopt rules for how Democrats will conduct the public phase of the impeachment investigation. The vote was only the fourth time the full House authorized an impeachment inquiry into a president.  

But Trump and other Republicans have embraced the fight over impeachment, arguing that Democrats are abandoning issues like heath care and the economy to focus on impeachment. Democrats have said the president abused the power of his office by pressuring Ukraine to launch an investigation of his political rival, Democrat Joe Biden. 

Poll: How much sway do past Democratic nominees have? 

Polling indicates the nation is sharply divided on impeachment. Nearly four in 10 Americans said Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president was itself an impeachable offense, according to a recent USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll. Another 31% said there was nothing wrong with the conversation, echoing Trump’s insistence that his conversation with Zelensky was “perfect.”

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Just over 20% of Americans said the call was “wrong” but doesn’t rise to an impeachable offense.

Trump was in Mississippi to support Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, the GOP nominee in the race for governor in the state. Reeves is running against Democrat Jim Hood, the attorney general, in a surprisingly close race in a deeply red state. Voters head to the polls Tuesday. 

The president is scheduled to hold rallies in Kentucky and Louisiana next week. 

Trump kicked off the rally Friday by touting the operation over the weekend to kill Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, underscoring that he will also make the raid part of his stump speech. The rally was Trump’s first since the operation took place.

The president’s campaign also mentioned the raid in a television advertisement that aired during the World Series.  

“He was a savage and soulless monster but his reign of terror is over,” Trump said, adding that the U.S. military had “punched out his ticket to hell.”

Trump said the operation hasn’t received as much attention as it should. 

“If I were a Democrat, they’d be talking about that story for weeks,” the president said. “With me, they don’t even want to – they actually played it down.” 

The president also joked about the star power of a dog that was wounded in the raid. The president has repeatedly brought attention to the dog, Conan, and at one point tweeted a doctored photo of himself giving the canine a medal. 

“Conan the dog got more publicity than me,” Trump said. “And I’m very happy about that.”

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John Fritze covers the White House. Reach him @jfritze.

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