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Trump Meets With Congressional Republicans Amid House GOP Divisions

On Thursday, former president and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump made his first visit to Capitol Hill since leaving the presidency, meeting with Republican lawmakers to discuss potential legislative priorities.

In the weeks since his May 31 conviction of 34 felony charges related to falsifying business records, Trump has emphasized a key legislative goal: rallying Congress to combat his convictions and what he perceives as Democratic manipulation of the judicial system.

In the days following his conviction, Trump reached out to Speaker Mike Johnson, one of the earliest Republican lawmakers to stand by him during his Manhattan trial and a consistent critic of Trump’s prosecutor, D.A. Alvin Bragg. Urging Johnson to leverage congressional authority, Trump emphasized, “We have to overturn this.”

However, recent support for Trump in the House has been decreasing. Republicans have largely shelved their push to impeach President Joe Biden, a request initially made by Trump. The vote on Wednesday to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt only passed following a vigorous lobbying effort. Additionally, the proposals aimed at what Republicans call “rogue prosecutors,” particularly those investigating Trump, lack strong prospects for the future.

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Furthermore, a bill introduced in 2023 by Rep. Russell Fry (R-South Carolina) that seeks to enable presidents facing state-level charges to transfer their case to federal court, thereby undermining the authority of officials such as Bragg and Fani Willis, Trump’s prosecutor in Fulton County, Georgia, is only now being prepared for potential floor action.

Nevertheless, Johnson has reiterated his dedication to backing Trump and aiding him with his legal challenges. He announced that he has been collaborating with Judiciary Committee chair and Trump ally Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on using the appropriations process to target special counsel Jack Smith and his investigation into Trump.

However, Trump’s alignment with the House GOP remains fragmented.

Trump’s visit to the Hill thus arrives amidst a crucial moment for the congressional GOP, as many members are anxious about their reelection prospects in November and the potential loss of their majority.

During Trump’s visit, which included meetings with both House and Senate Republicans, a press conference with GOP senators, discussions with the Business Roundtable, a lobbying organization representing some of the nation’s most influential CEOs, and a celebration for his 78th birthday with a cake, he expressed his unwavering confidence in the party.

Trump also pledged his full support for every Republican seeking reelection, offering an olive branch to those who had voted to impeach him.

“There was certainly a sense of unity, the most unified I felt our caucus has been in a long time,” said Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas). “I think we passed that magic moment where we are all ready to move forward.”

At what one member referred to as a “pep rally,” Trump’s speech focused more on inspiration than policy specifics. He briefly mentioned plans regarding Social Security and Medicare, border security, inflation reduction and foreign policy, emphasizing a strategy that will “reestablish peace through strength and a strong America.”

Trump additionally encouraged members to frame abortion as a state issue. However, he made no reference to pressing the House for assistance in overturning his criminal conviction or calls for impeaching Biden.

Riley Flynn

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