Donald Trump responded to his impeachment by playing to his base – attacking refugees as threats to national security and painting the vote as a direct assault on his supporters.

Speaking from Battle Creek, Michigan, in a densely attended rally the president told his audience “it doesn’t feel like we’re being impeached” as, elsewhere in Washington, he became the third president in US history to be on the losing end of such a vote.

However beyond occasional comments on what he termed as “lawless, partisan impeachment”, much of the focus of one of the longest speeches of his presidency was on the ‘America first’ policies that have long resonated with his base.

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In one segue from foreign trade deals onto foreign nationals, the president lashed out at immigrants entering the US, playing to his supporters while invoking boos and jeers from the crowd.

“After years of rebuilding foreign nations we’re now rebuilding our nation – is that ok?” he told the crowd before attacking “globalists”.

“On no issue have Democrat politicians more thoroughly betrayed the American people than immigration”, he added “Every democrat running for president wants to open the flood gates to unlimited refugees from all around the world, overwhelming your communities and putting our national security at grave risk.

“We must care for our own citizens first. Democrat immigration policies are resulting in brutal assaults and wicked murders against innocent Americans”.

He went on to list two crimes carried out by immigrants in Michigan – saying brutal murders at the hand of foreign nationals were “happening all the time”, despite one attack the president falsely identified as recently having taking place more than three years ago.

He added: “If you want to end sanctuary cities in Michigan, if you want to protect your families from criminal aliens, if you want to have a safe life frankly - it’s crazy what they’re doing, you wouldn’t believe it – you have only one choice in 2020, you must vote Republican”.

Meanwhile on Twitter the president was accused of taking on an authoritarian bent after sharing an image of himself with the words “In reality they’re not after me, they’re after you. I’m just in the way”.

While strident in its language the words do not appear to be his own. Images with the same text have previously been shared by supporters of Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, while similar images of the president have been produced by Mr Trump’s fans since 2018.

In a Facebook post that was later tagged as false news buy the social media firm in October, the phrase was attributed to Mr Trump and shared in a number of groups supportive of the president – with the full text “They’re not after me. They are after you; your guns, your Christian values, your freedom. I’m just in their way.”

There is no evidence the president has ever made such a statement, according to fact-checker site Politfact.

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