U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S., on Thursday, March 28, 2019. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Grand Rapids, Michigan: Donald Trump continued his assault on the media and Democrats on Thursday night, wrongly claiming “total exoneration, complete vindication” at his first rally since Robert Mueller submitted his report.

Trump dedicated about half of his approximately 90-minute speech in front of a raucous audience at Grand Rapids to the topic, labelling the accusations and investigation “ridiculous bullshit”. The president bounced between theories about why the special counsel’s investigation happened and attacks on his opponents.

“All of the Democrats, politicians, the media also — bad people,” Trump told the crowd at Michigan’s Van Andel Arena. “The crooked journalists, the totally dishonest TV pundits” helped perpetuate “the single greatest hoax in the history of politics”.

He later claimed that the investigation was really an effort “to overturn the results of the 2016 election”.

“It was nothing more than a sinister effort to undermine our historic election and to sabotage the will of the American people,” Trump said to loud boos.

He repeatedly called for “accountability”, drawing chants of “Lock them up”. At other points, the president mocked Democratic opponents, including “little pencil-neck [US representative] Adam Schiff” and his fellow lawmaker Jerry Nadler, whom Trump said he “beat again”.

Though Trump told the crowd multiple times that Mueller found “no collusion and no obstruction”, the attorney general William Barr’s four-page summary of Mueller’s report only stated that it found no proof that Trump criminally colluded with Russia. Barr’s summary said Mueller had reached no conclusion about whether Trump had obstructed justice, but Barr wrote that he decided there was insufficient evidence to pursue an obstruction charges against Trump.

Democrats and Republicans are calling on Barr to release the full report, which he has so far refused to do, raising suspicion about its contents among Democrats.

The rally in Michigan highlights the state’s importance to Trump’s re-election bid. To loud cheers, he recounted that Grand Rapids was the last stop during his 2016 campaign. Despite the enthusiasm, the latest polling shows a strong majority of Michigan voters — including independents — don’t plan to vote for Trump in 2020. Moreover, Democrats in 2018 swept all three statewide offices by healthy margins, and Democrat candidates received more collective votes in the state Legislature.

— Guardian News & Media Ltd