Republicans will tout “unity” with Trump during his first visit to the Capitol since January. 6 attack

WASHINGTON — Three and a half years ago, President Donald Trump incited a violent riot at the Capitol in an effort to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory and remain in power, a House select committee concluded after a lengthy investigation.

On Thursday, Trump will make his first visit to the Capitol since before January 1. 6 as Republicans give their party’s presumptive 2024 nominee a hero’s welcome.

Less than five months before his rematch with Biden, Trump is meeting behind closed doors a few blocks from the Capitol with House Republicans and will meet with Republican senators in the afternoon as the party discusses messages from campaign and its legislative strategy in 2025.

As Trump approached from behind, a handful of protesters held signs in front of the Capitol Hill Club, which read inscriptions such as “Failed Coup” and “Democracy Forever, Trump Never.” The Democratic National Committee, meanwhile, has set up a mobile billboard that will attempt to track Trump between meetings while broadcasting footage from the January meeting. 6 attack.

Trump and Biden are engaged in a competitive race and control of Congress is up for grabs this fall, but many in the Republican Party express optimism that they can win the 2024 election and move quickly on Trump’s agenda .

“It will be an expression of unity,” the senator said. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a former GOP campaign chairman, told NBC News.

Even some party critics plan to attend: Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who voted to convict Trump in the impeachment trial after Jan. 1. 6, said he was thinking about attending but was still consolidating his schedule.

“The polls say he will be our next president, so you have to work with him,” Cassidy said, joking that he didn’t know what to expect. “Can you predict what Trump is going to do in the next minute? No of course not.”

It will also be the first time since the Capitol riot that Trump will be in the same room as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. ; the two have not spoken since December 2020. At the time, McConnell criticized Trump as being “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events” of January. 6. He has since endorsed Trump for president — and announced he would step down as Senate GOP leader after this year.

“I said three years ago, right after the attack on the Capitol, that I would support our candidate no matter who it was – including him. I said earlier this year that I supported him. “He won the nomination from voters across the country,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday, without using Trump’s name. “And of course I’ll be at the meeting tomorrow.”

Trump returns to Washington just after being convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush money payments to an adult film star and awaiting sentencing. Between his meetings with House and Senate Republicans, Trump will meet with CEOs in a meeting with the Business Roundtable, a lobbying group that says it represents more than 200 major companies, as Washington and key industries prepare to the reality that Trump could be president again. .

Several of Trump’s vice-presidential contenders will also have a chance to get his attention on Thursday. They include GOP senators. JD Vance of Ohio, Marco Rubio of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., a top Trump ally who played a key role in the Republican Party’s efforts to prevent the certification of Biden’s 2020 victory, predicted that Trump would win a second term and would be “the most consequential president in modern history”. “era” as he repairs the “disaster” created by the Biden administration.

“When he arrives, we’ll have to have a very aggressive schedule for the first 100 days; the first year will be important. I think we can’t do it for a moment, because there’s so much to do,” Johnson said to journalists. Wednesday. “You don’t put the cart before the horse, but you have to be ready to lead. »

Other Trump critics within the party are expected to skip the Senate meeting, including Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah. All three voted to convict Trump after he was impeached in connection with the January affair. 6.

Romney, who is retiring from the Senate this year, said he had a flight to catch at the time of the Trump rally.

“I’m not giving him advice on what to say, and I’m sure he wouldn’t listen to my advice anyway,” Romney told reporters.

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said he didn’t understand much about McConnell’s participation in the meeting with Trump.

“I don’t think it’s anything other than Mitch showing respect for our presidential candidate,” Tillis said. “And show up for all of us at the conference.”

Trump is not expected to set foot in the Capitol complex itself, which his supporters invaded in 2021, during his visit. He will meet in the morning with House Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club, a private Republican club located just steps from the Capitol office buildings. In the afternoon, he will meet with Republican senators at the headquarters of the National Republican Senatorial Committee after speaking at the Business Roundtable.

Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who did not support Trump for president, declined to say whether he would attend.

“No questions about Trump,” Young said, adding that it was a personal rule “until I decided to make it more of a rule.”

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