Trump returns to Washington with renewed grip on the Republican Party

Donald J. Trump traveled to Washington last summer in a state of misery. He was there for his criminal arraignment and he later told his associates that the city was disgusting. He could sense hostility from Washington, aides said.

Today, he returns to the nation’s capital under very different circumstances: to exert his dominance over a political and business establishment that has been forced to come to terms with him.

The former president is now the presumptive Republican nominee against President Biden, having defeated several primary rivals, raised hundreds of millions of dollars in recent months and rallied a wide range of Republicans behind him to denounce his recent criminal conviction in Manhattan as evidence of a militarized justice system.

Mr. Trump’s planned meetings with his opponents, including Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader who denounced him on the Senate floor weeks after the violent attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob in January. January 6, 2021 – are the most striking examples of how an establishment that still hates him has accepted his potential return to power. After years of hoping that someone else could take the helm of their party, this establishment is gradually submitting to the reality of the 2024 campaign.

“There is great anticipation and great enthusiasm here,” President Mike Johnson told reporters Wednesday before Mr. Trump’s visit.

The former president’s morning will begin with a morning meeting with a group of House members, followed by a visit with dozens of business leaders belonging to the prestigious Business Roundtable. In the afternoon, he will visit senators at a meeting hosted by Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, a close relative who in January became the highest-ranking senator to support Mr. Trump’s candidacy .

The meeting agenda is not entirely clear; A campaign official said meetings with attendees would focus on policy, on issues such as the migrant crisis. A lawmaker planning to attend, who was not authorized to discuss the meetings, said no agenda was apparent other than that Mr. Trump is seeking to drum up enthusiasm.

Republican members of the House of Representatives have been his most loyal supporters in Washington for many years, especially since his backers helped shape the makeup of the GOP conference by propelling Trump-aligned candidates into the primaries.

But the meeting with senators, who as a group had proven less receptive to Mr. Trump’s demands over time, will be the first time Mr. Trump has been in the same room as Mr. McConnell since 2020, when the former president was seeking re-election and then, ultimately, trying to gather proposals to help him stay in power.

Mr. Trump’s repeated claims of widespread voter fraud in key states like Georgia were widely seen as depressing turnout in the two Senate runoffs, costing Republicans the majority.

A day after those runoffs, the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in a deadly siege aimed at preventing Mr. Biden’s certification of victory in the Electoral College. Mr. McConnell condemned Mr. Trump’s actions and found him responsible.

But he also did not vote to convict Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial followed, the second such trial of the outgoing president, saying it was the wrong forum for a president removed from office. Mr. McConnell and other Senate Republicans’ acquittal would prove fateful, ultimately allowing Mr. Trump’s improbable comeback. A conviction would have excluded him from office.

“We have a criminal justice system in this country,” Mr. McConnell said in his speech after the Senate trial. “We have a civil dispute. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by one or the other. I think the Senate was right not to seize a power that the Constitution does not give us.

Since then, Mr. Trump has been indicted four times and convicted in what will likely be the only trial to take place before Election Day. But Mr. McConnell, for whom regaining control of the Senate is a paramount issue, had said well before Mr. Trump became a candidate for a third time and said he would fire his party’s nominee even if he Mr. Atout was acting.

Pressed about Mr. Trump’s visit to Washington, Mr. McConnell told reporters on Wednesday: “I said earlier this year that I support him. “He won the nomination of voters across the country.”

Defying the expectations of Mr. McConnell and many others, Mr. Trump has not disappeared. He has transformed his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida into a GOP mecca where potential candidates are expected to go to plead for his support. He crushed the man many thought would succeed him, the governor. Ron DeSantis of Florida, and won almost every primary and caucuse he ran in, gaining strength in Republican primary polls after his indictments.

For the most part, these indictments helped Mr. Trump politically. They prompted Mr. Trump’s allies, including a number of participants on Capitol Hill, to say that Republicans must use the tools of the criminal justice system to pursue Mr. Trump’s prosecutors and a wide range of Democrats.

Between House and Senate meetings, Mr. Trump will be hosted by the Business Roundtable, whose members include CEOs like Apple’s Tim Cook and JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon.

Most American businesses had turned their backs on Mr. Trump after the January violence. 6. But as he rises in the polls and a number of business leaders become increasingly disappointed with Mr. Biden and as the Trump tax cuts are set to expire in 2025, a number of people spoke out to support Mr. Trump or be receptive to his rhetoric in favor of a second administration.

Mr. Trump and his campaign team were eager to recruit them as donors, and in recent weeks many business leaders have indicated privately that they would join.

Leave a Comment