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    Trump’s Team Celebrates Acquittal at (Where Else?) His Washington Hotel

    Donald Trump speaks to his legal team, Alan Dershowitz  a retired Harvard law professor. Image: AP
    WASHINGTON — Well, where else were they going to go? One mile from the scene of President Trump’s acquittal in his impeachment trial, members of his defense team, family and administration gathered Wednesday evening at the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington.

    They turned its marbled lobby into something of a hive bursting with “Keep America Great” hats, well-done steaks and bottles of red wine.“I think it’s clearly a validation of the fact that the president never committed a crime,” Corey Lewandowski, the president’s former campaign manager, said as he flashed a blue piece of paper from his wallet.

    It was a Senate gallery ticket; he had watched the vote as it happened. “We’ve had a very good week,” Mr. Lewandowski said, “between the debacle in Iowa” of which referring to assorted fumbles that left the Democratic results in the 2020 caucuses in a state of suspended uncertainty — “the State of the Union speech and then the acquittal of the impeachment proceedings.”

    Everyone else seemed to have gotten the message. Mr. Lewandowski was only one of several current and former Trump advisers who had gathered at the hotel to mingle and drink. On Tuesday, a photograph of an airplane full of Trump campaign surrogates returning from Iowa sailed around the internet. By Wednesday, roughly half of them appeared to have passed through the hotel at some point to celebrate the verdict with plenty of booze and slightly bitter undertones. It was a mood that mirrored the one on display by Mr. Trump, who has so far reflected on his victory by hitting back at Democrats on Twitter. 

    While the president stewed at the White House before a speech scheduled for noon on Thursday, his brethren arrived at the family property in slick black sport utility vehicles as the weather hit a drizzle. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, arrived early in the evening, ducking into a side room with members of Mr. Trump’s legal defense team, including Pat A. Cipollone and Jay Sekulow.  Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, came and went. “They denigrate,” she said. “We celebrate.”

    Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the ever-present campaign road warriors, also made an appearance, as did Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman. Past a certain hour, the drinks started flowing faster and the lobby turned into a who’s who of fixtures in Mr. Trump’s circle. At one table, Mr. Lewandowski held forth with Eric Bolling, a host for the Sinclair Broadcast Group.

    Mr. Bolling echoed some supporters by focusing on Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, whose vote to remove the president from office prevented Mr. Trump from being able to say his acquittal had been cast along purely party lines. “Mitt Romney should be removed from all of his leadership roles and should consider switching parties,” Mr. Bolling declared.

    When asked if he believed the president would fixate on Mr. Romney’s decision, Mr. Bolling paused. “I hope not,” he said. This is often the best way to describe the atmosphere at even the best pro-Trump bash: celebratory, but with a palpable amount of spite. Sweet and bitter — the Negroni, as it were, of Senate acquittals.

    The perpetual hint of defiance that permeates a crowd like this was even more on display given that the hotel had been a regular gathering place for many of the figures involved in the impeachment proceedings. It was what Lev Parnas, a Soviet-born businessman who played an integral role in the campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s political rivals, called “a breeding ground.”

    This, of course, did little to encourage Republicans to shift their support of the president, or the family business, throughout impeachment or otherwise. The Republican National Committee has paid more than $440,000 to the hotel since Mr. Trump was elected — about 24,400 glasses of the hotel’s house white wine.

    America First Action, a super PAC that supports Mr. Trump’s causes, has spent $505,000 at the hotel since 2017. As the evening unfolded, the party began to creep out into the open — or at least to the steakhouse adjacent to the lobby. Ms. Guilfoyle and the younger Mr. Trump held court with a merry band of supporters, including Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, who has dipped in and out — and is presumably in again — of the Trump fold.

    Even as he socialized with the president’s family, Mr. Gaetz announced on Twitter that he had filed an ethics complaint against Speaker Nancy Pelosi for tearing up the president’s State of the Union address.  “Nobody is above the law,” he wrote. “She must be held accountable.”Against a wall stood Nigel Farage, the former leader of the U.K. Independence Party and one of the so-called Bad Boys of Brexit whose perpetual presence at the hotel suggests he should have a punch card.

    Around 11 p.m., Mr. Sekulow strode through the lobby to say goodbye, pausing to take pictures with admirers. He had no comment for a reporter on his reaction to the acquittal, but a woman approached him as he left the hotel to provide her own assessment. “You did great,” she said. Just behind her, another woman came outside and sniffed the air. “Ugly night,” she remarked to no one in particular as the celebrants departed.

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