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Trump returns to Capitol Hill for first time since Jan. 6 attack in visit GOP calls "unifying"

Trump visits Capitol for first time since Jan. 6
Trump visits Capitol for first time since Jan. 6 insurrection 02:18

Former President Donald Trump rallied House and Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill Thursday, his first appearance on Capitol Hill since his supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and his first visit to Washington since he was convicted of 34 felony counts by a New York jury.

"There is tremendous unity in the Republican Party," Trump said after meeting with GOP senators at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, taking no questions from reporters. 

Trump met with the full House Republican conference Thursday, then GOP senators. 

The former president's appearance before House Republicans was, in the words of firebrand and ally Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, a "pep rally." Rep. Elise Stefanik, who chairs the House Republican Conference, called the meeting a "very successful" political gathering.

"We are 100% unified behind his candidacy and are ready to get to work on behalf of the American people," Stefanik told reporters, calling Trump's appearance a "unifying event." 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has openly criticized former Trump for years but endorsed him for president in March, called the meeting "really positive."

"He and I got a chance to talk a little bit, we shook hands a few times," McConnell told reporters. "He got a lot of standing ovations. It was an entirely positive meeting."  

GOP Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota said Trump discussed with Republicans how tips perhaps shouldn't be taxed, something Rounds said could be a popular change to the tax code and the economy.  

Former President Donald Trump arrives to the Capitol Hill Club, Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Washington. Jacquelyn Martin / AP

Republican leaders said Trump addressed immigration and the economy, as well as the various legal situations he faces. The president, who spoke to House Republicans in the morning, has a series of meetings scheduled on Capitol Hill. Trump hasn't visited Capitol Hill since before the Jan. 6, 2021 attack, when his supporters attacked the building and interrupted the joint session of Congress that was certifying President Biden's electoral victory. 

The former president was convicted last month on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels. Trump has denied the allegations and said after the verdict that "nothing ever happened." His campaign has said that his fundraising has skyrocketed since the conviction. 

Republican House Majority Whip Tom Emmer insisted that Trump's Manhattan trial and conviction, which Emmer called a "sham," has "only given him more energy." 

"Donald Tump is going to win, Donald Trump is going to help us win," Emmer said. 

As Trump visited Capitol Hill, the Biden campaign released an ad blasting Trump over Jan. 6, and the Democratic National Committee is launching a mobile billboard around the area. The move comes as some of the officers who were present on Jan. 6, 2021, are traveling to swing states on behalf of the Biden campaign.

Democrats in Congress also denounced the visit, with Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chair of the now-disbanded House committee that investigated the attack, asking "how dare Trump show his face on these grounds?" 

Trump continues to insist the 2020 presidential election was rigged, and has cast doubt on the integrity of the upcoming November election  — as have several of his GOP allies. 

Ahead of Trump's meeting with congressional Republicans, Republicans on the House Administration Committee issued subpoenas for documents from President Biden's Cabinet about agency efforts to help with voter registration, election information and to combat election misinformation and conspiracy theories. The subpoenas were sent to 15 Cabinet-level officials. 

Former President Donald Trump with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Office of Gov. Youngkin

While he was in the area, Trump also met with GOP Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in Virginia to review recent polling data from the state that suggests the state might be competitive in November, sources familiar with the conversation said. The Trump campaign has recent internal polling that shows Trump within striking distance of Mr. Biden in Virginia, a state that the president won by 10 points in 2020.

If the Trump campaign starts putting more effort into flipping the state, which has not backed a Republican for president since 2004, it could push the Biden campaign to divert more resources to a state considered to be safe for the president.

The Biden campaign has six field offices and has held multiple grassroots events in the commonwealth, including a pickleball tournament to court senior voters on Wednesday." 

"Virginians have rejected Trump every time he's run here, and his MAGA allies were soundly defeated last year after they campaigned on his agenda of banning abortion across the Commonwealth," said Jake Rubenstein, the Biden-Harris 2024 Campaign Virginia state director. "We're mobilizing voters in every corner of Virginia and looking forward to beating Trump for a third time in November." 

Kaia Hubbard and Aaron Navarro contributed to this report.

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