President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE on Thursday swiped at Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNorth Dakota Republican latest House breakthrough COVID-19 case Pelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGraham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Utah) for invoking religion during the impeachment proceedings while speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast.
"Weeks ago, and again yesterday, courageous Republican politicians and leaders had the wisdom, fortitude and strength to do what everyone knows was right," Trump said. "I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say ‘I pray for you’ when they know that’s not so.”
President Trump: "I don't like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say 'I pray for you' when they know that that's not so. So many people have been hurt and we can't let that go on."#NationalPrayerBreakfast pic.twitter.com/79XCLpD7GP— CSPAN (@cspan) February 6, 2020
Trump opened his remarks at the event by railing against the recently concluded impeachment process, taking an unmistakable jab at Romney, who voted to convict Trump one impeachment charge, and Pelosi, who was seated just a few feet away. When he entered the room, Trump held up newspapers emblazoned with headlines announcing his acquittal.
Romney voted on Wednesday convict Trump for abuse of power, and Pelosi, one of the president's chief foils, launched the impeachment inquiry in September.
Romney, a devout Mormon, frequently spoke about his religion and prayer when explaining his reasoning for voting to convict Trump on one article of impeachment.
"Does anyone seriously believe that I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?" Romney asked before the vote, growing emotional as he spoke.
The Utah Republican was the only senator to cross party lines in Wednesday's vote. Trump was acquitted on both abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Pelosi has regularly said she prays for the president and his family. In December, she pushed back at a question in December about whether she hates Trump, insisting she does not hate anybody because of her Catholic faith.
Trump bemoaned at the beginning of his remarks on Thursday that he and his family have been "put through a terrible ordeal by some very dishonest and corrupt people."
"They have done everything possible to destroy us, and by so doing very badly hurt our nation," he said. "They know what they are doing is wrong, but they put themselves far ahead of our great country.”
Trump is scheduled to give more extensive remarks about his acquittal later Thursday at the White House.
As Trump spoke Thursday morning, Pelosi sat just five seats away. She clapped when the president entered the room and was introduced. But Trump's remarks will serve as yet another escalation in what has grown to be an increasingly fraught relationship.
Trump did not interact with Pelosi during the prayer breakfast. Pelosi said later Thursday morning that Trump's remarks were "completely inappropriate." She called his attacks on Romney "particularly without class" and reiterated that she prays for the president.
"I pray hard for him because he’s so off the track of our constitution, our values, our country... he really needs our prayers," she said. "So he can say whatever he wants, but I do pray for him and I do so sincerely and without anguish."
The two were in the same room again two days after a tense State of the Union address. At the conclusion of the president's speech Tuesday night, Pelosi picked up her copy of Trump's prepared remarks and ripped it up, an act that has dominated the conversation about the speech in Washington, D.C.
Trump's bitter remarks on Thursday came as a surprise to some onlookers who view the National Prayer Breakfast as a nonpartisan event focused on the significance of religious freedom. Presidents of both parties have attended the gathering since it began nearly 70 years ago.
The broadsides were even more noticeable given they directly followed the keynote speaker, Arthur Brooks, who used his remarks to warn of the spread of contempt in the country.
“Contempt is ripping our country apart," Brooks warned. "We’re like a couple on the rocks in this country.”
Updated at 11:34 a.m.