Donald Trump delivered a stumbling, incoherent and at times outright fictitious re-election rally addres in which he complained about a dog’s media coverage and appeared to approve calls to imprison Hillary Clinton.
The dark, grievance-filled speech to supporters, delivered at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Arizona, was followed by a tweet which appeared to suggest he may pardon convicted friend and former advisor Roger Stone.
It came just a day after Mr Trump, apparently emboldened by his impeachment acquittal, pardoned a host of white-collar criminals, many with personal connections to the president’s donors and supporters.
Having falsely accused Democrats of attempting through impeachment to “poison our democracy and overthrow our entire system of government”, Mr Trump moved onto Conan, the military dog who was wounded during the Navy SEAL raid which killed Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“Remember the dog, great dog, Conan,” Mr Trump said while complaining about what he perceives as unfair media coverage. “When we took out – right? We love Conan. Conan’s a tough dog. But when we took out Al-Baghdadi, Conan, remember this? Conan got more publicity than President Trump. That’s ok.”
Echoing his repeated musings about serving more than the constitutionally enforced limit of two terms as president, Mr Trump complained “crooked politicians” had “really took away three years from us” due to investigations into his campaign’s links with Russia and the impeachment inquiry into his attempt to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.
Both probes uncovered multiple instances of wrongdoing by either Mr Trump himself or members of his 2016 election team.
Midway through Mr Trump’s speech, chants of “Lock her up!” erupted among his supporters after he gloated about beating Ms Clinton in the 2016 election.
“Crooked Hillary spent at least three times more than we did and lost,” Mr Trump said, giving a thumbs up during the chants.
“Crooked as hell she’s crooked as hell,” he added, moving on to criticism of the Obama administration and former senior law enforcement officials who were involved in the FBI probes into his campaign.
“There are a lot of dishonest slimeballs out there. Dishonest scum. Dirty cops, lot of dirty cops … the ones on top, they were absolute scum,” he said to applause.
Amid a series of false claims and mistruths about his impeachment, poll ratings and his political opponents, Mr Trump also struggled with a number of words.
“Last month we ended the Nasta (sic), there’ve, look you saw it, Nafta, catastrophe and that’s what it was,” Mr Trump said in reference to the US-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement which was renegotiated by his administration last year.
Discussing an illegal immigrant convicted of murder, Mr Trump said: “This savage animal had previously been deported after serving six years in privit (sic), and you know he was in prison six years.”
Mr Trump also stumbled over the word “overdose” – mispronouncing it “overdoth” – before referring to “neonetical” research instead of “neonatal”.
Following his speech, Mr Trump used Twitter to peddle a number of false claims about the Democratic Party and to attack Mike Bloomberg – who faced a grilling during his first Democratic debate – before posting a clip of Fox News host Tucker Carlson suggesting the president was about to pardon Stone.
“President Trump could end this travesty in an instant with a pardon and there are indications tonight that he will do that,” said Carlson, who falsely accused the judge in the case of being openly biased towards Democrats.
“What has happened to Roger Stone should never to anyone in this country … fixing it is the right thing to do and in the end that is the only thing that matters.”
Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress and witness tampering following special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s links to the Trump campaign and its backing of interference in the 2016 election.
Mr Trump has already suggested the case against Stone should be “thrown out”.