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Trump is returning to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican lawmakers, a first since Jan. 6 attack

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump makes a triumphant return to Capitol Hill to meet with Republicans in the House of Representatives and Senate, his first since sending the mob to “fight like hell” before the election. Attack on January 6, 2021as Republican lawmakers are energized and reinvigorated by his bid to retake the White House.

Despite the federal charges against Trump conspiring to overturn the 2020 electionand his recent guilty verdict In an unrelated hush-money lawsuit, the Republican former president arrived emboldened Thursday as the party’s presumptive nominee. He has successfully purged the Republican Party of critics, silenced skeptics, and once lured critical lawmakers on board his MAGA campaign.

“We are happy that Trump is back,” said the Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnsonwho led one of the lawsuits challenging the 2020 election and had his biggest fundraising day yet following Trump’s felony conviction.

The Republican chairman questioned whether he has asked Trump to respect the peaceful transfer of presidential power and commit not to do it again on January 6. ”

Trump is scheduled to deliver remarks to both groups at House and Senate campaign headquarters near the U.S. Capitol and discuss issues animating his campaign — including mass campaigning. immigration deportations but also tax cuts and other priorities for a possible second term.

In between, Trump is expected to speak at the downtown Business Roundtable, where presumptive presidential candidates are routinely invited to address the group of executives. Many potential priorities for a new White House administration are being formulated by a constellation of outside groups, including Project 2025laying the groundwork for executive and legislative action, even though Trump has made it clear he has his own agenda.

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But the private meetings with Republicans from the House of Representatives and the Senate so close to the Capitol are steeped in symbolism of Trump’s return as the American president that threatened the American tradition of the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

“It’s frustrating,” the former U.S. Capitol Police officer said Harry Dunnwho made his own failed run for Congress as a Democrat in Maryland in the aftermath of January 6, when police engaged in hand-to-hand combat to stop Trump supporters who stormed the building in an attempt to sway the election of President Joe Biden to undo.

Dunn spoke of the “irony” of Trump returning to the area and lawmakers now embracing him. “It just shows the lack of backbone they have when they really put party and person above country,” he said. “And it’s sad.”

Many of those who once stood up Trump has long been out of power, and the remaining Republicans appear increasingly excited about the possibility of him retaking the White House, and the windfall that could mean for their own Republican majority in Congress.

Johnson met with senators on Wednesday ahead of Trump’s arrival as Republicans identified possible priorities.

Outgoing Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell once blamed Trump for the “shameful” attack he called an “insurrection” now endorses the party’s presumptive candidate and said, “Of course I will be at the meeting.”

Sen. John Thune, the GOP vying to replace McConnell as leader, told The Associated Press he is interested in hearing from Trump about the fall elections and “ways that we, as a team, and he individually can appeal to the constituencies and people who traditionally do not vote Republican.”

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Thune said: “I think there’s an opportunity to really make this a big win.”

As democracies around the world are threatened by a far-right shift, experts warn that the American system, once seemingly immune to authoritarian impulses, is at risk from populist and extremist forces like those that inspired Trump to sack the Capitol.

“This is just another example of Republicans in the House of Representatives bending the knee to Donald Trump,” said Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, chairman of the House Democratic caucus.

Making January 6 a cornerstone of his re-election campaign, Trump is honoring those who stormed the Capitol as “warriors” and “patriots” and has vowed to pardon some of the more than 1,300 Americans convicted of crimes over the attack on the seat. of American democracy.

In addition, Trump has vowed to seek retaliation by ousting officials from the US Justice Department, which is prosecuting him in a four-count indictment seeking to overturn the election ahead of the January 6 attack and another case involving the storing of classified documents in his Mar-A. -Largo at home.

Republicans, especially in the House of Representatives, but increasingly also in the Senate, are strongly following his example and complaining about an unfair legal system. The House of Representatives has voted to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress and is re-investigating the House committee that investigated on January 6.

Along with Trump, the House and Senate Republican campaign teams scored some of their highest fundraising streaks ever after a jury found him guilty in the New York hush-money case.

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When former Republican Chairman Paul Ryan reiterated on Fox News this week that he would not vote for Trump and wished Republicans had another choice to become president, he was immediately ostracized by Trump allies.

“Paul, you are a piece of trash,” said Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas. “We should kick you out of the party.”

Of the Republicans who voted on January 6 to impeach Trump and convict him on charges of incitement of insurrection, only a few are still in office.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are not expected to attend Thursday’s closed-door session with Trump.

But Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said he would likely attend the Trump rally at the Republican senators’ campaign headquarters with the expectation that “he’s going to be the next president, so you have to work together.”

Asked if he was concerned about the direction of Trump’s Republican Party, Cassidy said: “Let the problems of the day be enough for the day. You can worry about tomorrow, but will it change anything? No.”

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who confronted Trump at times but did not participate in the vote to convict him of the attack on the Capitol, said he did not expect the meeting to be controversial as Republicans hold the hope to seize a majority in the Senate. .

‘Look, we have to win. And our ability to win a majority in the Senate is inextricably linked to Trump’s victory. So we’re like: one team, one vision. And I think that’s going to be largely what we’re talking about,” Tillis said.


Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.



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