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HomeWorldDonald Trump makes triumphant return to Capitol Hill amid renewed GOP support

Donald Trump makes triumphant return to Capitol Hill amid renewed GOP support

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Donald Trump is making a triumphant return to Capitol Hill to meet with House and Senate Republicans, marking his first visit since urging supporters to “fight like hell” ahead of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Despite facing federal charges for conspiring to overturn the 2020 election and a recent guilty verdict in an unrelated hush money trial, the former president arrives emboldened as the GOP’s presumptive nominee. His campaign has revitalized the party, purging critics and silencing skeptics, while attracting previously critical lawmakers.

“We’re excited to welcome President Trump back,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson, who led one of the lawsuits challenging the 2020 election and experienced a significant fundraising boost after Trump’s felony conviction.

Johnson avoided questions about whether he has asked Trump to respect the peaceful transfer of power, stating, “Of course he respects that; we all do, and we’ve all talked about it, ad nauseum.”

Trump is scheduled to address both House and Senate Republicans at their campaign headquarters near the U.S. Capitol. He will discuss issues driving his campaign, including mass immigration deportations, tax cuts, and other priorities for a potential second term.

The symbolism of Trump’s return near the Capitol, where he previously threatened the peaceful transfer of power, is not lost on many.

Former U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Maryland Democrat post-January 6, expressed frustration. “It just shows the lack of backbone they have when they’re truly putting party and person over country,” he said. “And it’s sad.”

Many of Trump’s past opponents within the GOP are no longer in office, and current Republicans seem increasingly enthusiastic about the prospect of him retaking the White House and benefiting their own majorities in Congress. Johnson met with senators on Wednesday to outline potential priorities ahead of Trump’s arrival.

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Outgoing Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who once condemned Trump for the “disgraceful” attack he called an “insurrection,” now endorses Trump as the presumptive nominee, saying, “Of course I’ll be at the meeting.”

John Thune, the GOP whip, expressed interest in Trump’s strategies for the fall election and ways to appeal to non-traditional Republican voters. “I think there’s an opportunity there to really make this a big win,” Thune said.

As democracies globally face threats from far-right movements, experts warn the U.S. system is at risk from populist and extremist forces like those Trump inspired on January 6. Rep. Pete Aguilar of California, chairman of the House Democratic caucus, criticized the GOP’s alignment with Trump, stating, “This is just another example of House Republicans bending the knee to Donald Trump.”

Trump has made January 6 a cornerstone of his reelection campaign, celebrating those who stormed the Capitol as “warriors” and “patriots,” and vowing to pardon many of the more than 1,300 convicted for the assault.

He has also pledged retribution by ousting officials at the U.S. Justice Department prosecuting him.

The House and Senate GOP campaign arms have seen significant fundraising boosts following Trump’s legal battles. When former GOP Speaker Paul Ryan reiterated on Fox News his refusal to vote for Trump, he was promptly ostracized by Trump allies.

“Paul Ryan, you’re a piece of garbage,” said Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas. “We should kick you out of the party.”

Few Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over January 6 remain in office. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are not expected at Thursday’s session with Trump.

However, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana indicated he would likely attend, acknowledging Trump’s potential return to the presidency.

Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who confronted Trump at times but did not vote to convict him, does not expect contention in the meeting. “Look, we’ve got to win.

And our ability to get a majority in the Senate is intrinsically linked to Trump winning. So we’re like, one team, one vision. And I think that will be largely what we talk about,” Tillis said.

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