CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — President Donald Trump on Friday used his first trip outside Washington since his State of the Union address and the end of his impeachment trial to announce a new nationwide effort to revitalize underserved cities across the country.
The new effort will be called “Opportunity Now,” Trump said at an economic summit in Charlotte, North Carolina. He called it “a big deal” that would involve community leaders, workers, entrepreneurs, employers and faith leaders.
But the topic didn't appear to hold his interest for long. Five minutes into his speech, Trump began to gloat anew about being acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday after the House impeached him on charges of abuse of power and obstructing the work of Congress.
“It was the impeachment hoax. That was a thing of the past,” he said of his Democratic accusers. “Now they have a failed impeachment hoax. They can put that on their resume.”
Trump then delivered a reprise of his State of the Union address, including comments about the U.S. economy, his trade policies and other issues.
Before leaving Washington, Trump also remarked on the Democratic-led effort to remove him from office, saying of Democrats: “I think there's a lot of evil on that side.”
He also told reporters on the South Lawn that reports that acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney is on his way out are “false.”
People close to Mulvaney, who was among the White House staffers who traveled with Trump on Friday, pushed back against the notion that he will soon leave his job.
Trump was in Charlotte to deliver closing remarks at the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit at Central Piedmont Community College. It's the first in a series of trips he will be taking to promote opportunity zones, the White House said.
Trump was set to spotlight help for thousands of neighborhoods around the country that were designated as opportunity zones under a tax-cut package he signed into law in 2017. Tax breaks are provided for certain investments in these lower-income areas.
“It's all working,” Trump said Tuesday night as he highlighted opportunity zones in his State of the Union address.
As an example, Trump introduced an Army veteran from Cincinnati who turned his life around after getting a job with a construction company that invests in opportunity zones.
“Wealthy people and companies are pouring money into poor neighborhoods or areas that haven't seen investment in decades, creating jobs, energy and excitement," Trump said.
Trump will return to Charlotte in late August for the Republican National Convention, where he is expected to claim his party's nomination for president.
“We'll be coming here a lot,” Trump said Friday.
Associated Press writers Kevin Freking and Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.
Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap