The week he got impeached, President Donald Trump spent his mornings huddled with top aides and lawyers to strategize.
He spent the afternoons working the phones, first gathering vote tallies and later asking why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was postponing sending articles of impeachment to the Senate.
He spent his evenings, boasting about his accomplishments, even joking about the impeachment process, at one White House holiday reception after another.
And at the ultimate moment — the moment that would make him just the third president in history to be impeached — Trump was cloistered in the bowels of the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, Mich., watching the House vote on TV while a boisterous crowd waited for him to emerge and eviscerate his enemies.
It was the final week of a three-month progression for the president, who has repeatedly yo-yoed between frustration and defiance as House Democrats marched toward their seemingly inevitable conclusion — impeachment.
“He’s gone through the full range of emotions — surprise, disappointment, anger, fury,” said a friend of the president. “He’s now back to surprise.”
When Democrats launched their investigation in September, Trump fumed Republicans weren’t doing enough to defend him. When the impeachment hearings started, he was angry at the career officials who testified. By the time the House closed in on its historic vote this week, he was surprisingly upbeat, buoyed by the lack of Republican defections and string of perceived policy victories.
He watched the final House votes in a room in the area surrounded by more than a dozen confidants, including Vice President Mike Pence, Trump son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House congressional liaison Eric Ueland, according to a person familiar with the situation.
But in the hours and days after being impeached, Trump flipped back to anger, punching out tweet after tweet, several all caps, and fuming at Pelosi.
Trump is “bitter” about the vote, “annoyed” with the media coverage and worried about his legacy, said nine people familiar with Trump’s week, including six who have spoken with him in recent days who asked for anonymity to speak freely.
“He goes through peaks and valleys,” said one former aide.
But the anger stays. “He’s very angry. It’s made a deep impression,” the friend said. “The anger is deep and raw.”
And then he was off to Mar-a-Lago, his South Florida retreat, for a two-week stay. Trump will be surrounded by supporters and friends as he gets ready for a Senate trial and plots his reelection strategy. On Saturday, he’ll speak at a conference put together by Turning Point USA, the Trump-aligned college campus organizing group, as part of a lineup that features a parade of MAGA world figures.
Ivanka Trump, Trump’s daughter and senior adviser, who gave a rare TV interview this week, acknowledged that impeachment has angered her father, but said it also has given him focus. “He’s energized … as are 63 million-plus voters who elected him to office,” she told CBS, slightly exaggerating the president’s vote total, which was just shy of 63,000,000.
An outside adviser described it this way: Trump’s anger is being channeled into 2020. “They energized this president who is already high energy,” the person said. “He has even more drive, is even more motivated to win reelection. He’s amped up.”
Yet despite Trump’s fulminations, those around him say the president has been especially pleased with the Republican Party’s unity.
Every Republican in the House voted against impeachment, and Republicans in the Senate are expected to band together to acquit Trump at the end of his impeachment trial, likely to start in January.
Meanwhile, Democrats had three defections — and lost a party member. After voting against impeachment, New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew formally switched parties and professed his undying support for Trump.
“Trump’s mood has been elevated now that the hearings in the House are over and especially because his red wall in the Senate is expected to hold,” said Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor and CEO of the drilling services company Canary, LLC. “Trump relishes having allies that fervently have his back. He draws energy from that.”
The House process ended Wednesday night when Democrats approved two articles of impeachment against the president, charging Trump with abuse of power for soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election and obstruction of Congress for blocking the House’s efforts to investigate.
Democrats say Trump conditioned a much-desired White House meeting for Ukraine’s leader, as well as millions in military aid, on Kyiv launching an investigation into Biden, a potential 2020 rival, and his son Hunter. Trump and his allies counter that the desired probe was part of a broader effort to eradicate corruption and uncover foreign wrongdoing in the 2016 presidential race.
But in the days sandwiched around the impeachment vote, lawmakers approved two of the president’s legislative priorities. First, Democrats struck a compromise with the Trump administration to pass a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada. Then, Congress passed a nearly $1.4 trillion, two-part spending bill, averting a federal government shutdown, establishing Trump’s beloved Space Force, and granting paid parental leave to federal workers, a signature issue for Ivanka Trump.
The legislation came on the heels of Trump announcing a minitrade deal with China, far short of the grand bargain he promised, but one that allowed the president to roll back some tariffs and declare victory.
All that action led to a string of headlines about White House priorities moving forward.
“Coverage drives his mood,” said the former aide. “For the first time in a long there was competing narrative on the TV.”
Trump’s team also made sure to show the president internal polls that indicate a slight uptick against impeachment in swing states since the investigation began. And while public polls initially showed an increase in support for impeachment after the Ukraine scandal surfaced, they now show a nearly even split between for and against.
“It’s not so much that our side has done so well, but the other side has done badly,” said an outside adviser. “They totally failed to sell it [to the public] … and tried to ignore that life is getting better with the economy.”
Trump’s campaign insists impeachment has energized the president’s supporters to volunteer, donate and attend rallies. “They see their vote is trying to be stolen from the 2016 election,” campaign manager Brad Parscale said.
The campaign and the Republican National Committee raised $10 million in small dollars on Wednesday and Thursday off the impeachment vote, according to campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh. About 600,000 new donors have contributed since September, according to a party official.
“He’s in for the fight. He’s gotten far more optimistic about things,” said a second former aide. “He’s realizing that it means a lot less than he thought.”