Donald Trump on Capitol Hill for first time since Jan 6 riot

Donald Trump has returned to Capitol Hill to meet Republicans in his first visit to the area since the 6 January riot of 2021.

The presumptive Republican nominee in November’s presidential election delivered a message of unity, promising to “work out” any lingering differences with fellow Republicans.

Later in the day, the former president was also scheduled to meet an association of 200 corporate leaders.

Nancy Pelosi, the former Democratic House Speaker, said in a statement that Trump was the “instigator of an insurrection… returning to the scene of the crime”.

The visit comes weeks after Trump’s criminal conviction for falsifying business records in his hush-money trial in New York.

He arrived at a Republican office building near the US Capitol building on Thursday morning, passing a small crowd of protesters holding signs with slogans including “failed coup” and “Democracy Forever, Trump Never”.

In a brief news conference early on Thursday afternoon, Trump said there was “great unity” in the party, and vowed to stand by fellow Republicans, even those with whom he sometimes had a contentious relationship in the past.

“I’m with every one of you. I’ll be with you always,” he said. “If [a relationship] wasn’t fantastic, it gets worked out.”

“We have one thing in mind, and that’s making our county great again,” he added.

Trump did not take questions from reporters after the news conference, but waved and gave a thumbs up at a small group of supporters shouting “I love you”.

“Thank you,” he mouthed in response.

Following a meeting between Trump and House Republicans earlier in the day, House Speaker Mike Johnson said the former president “brought an extraordinary amount of energy and enthusiasm this morning”.

“That is what we’re seeing in the party throughout the country,” Mr Johnson said. “We believe we are going to win back the White House, and the Senate, and grow the House majority.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been openly critical of Trump in the past, called the visit “really positive”.

“He got a lot of standing ovations,” Mr McConnell added.

In addition to Mr McConnell, two other Trump critics within the party – Utah Senator Mitt Romney and Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy – were present at the meeting.

Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, described Trump as “extremely gracious” and “warm” to Senate Republicans.

“I guess I’ve just been here five years, and that’s probably the warmest meeting that I have been in with senators and Trump,” he told reporters.

Mr Hawley said that Trump spoke about abortion “quite a lot” at the meeting, where he reiterated his stance that voters should be the ones to decide on the issue.

At the earlier meeting with House Republicans, Trump reportedly called the Wisconsin city of Milwaukee – which will host the Republican National Convention later this year – “terrible”, prompting his spokesman to clarify that he was referencing crime in the city rather than the city itself.

Before the visit, Politico reported that Trump called Mr Johnson to urge him to help reverse his 31 May conviction on 34 counts of falsifying documents in New York.

“We have to overturn this,” Trump reportedly said in an expletive-laden call.

New York Republican representative Marcus Molinaro told CBS, the BBC’s US partner, that Trump made no mention of the conviction when meeting with House Republicans.

More than three years ago, Trump urged supporters to “fight like hell” just hours before a mob stormed the US Capitol on 6 January, 2021, in a failed bid to prevent the certification of the election.

Mrs Pelosi said in her statement: “Donald Trump comes to Capitol Hill today with the same mission of dismantling our democracy.

“Make no mistake – Trump has already cemented his legacy of shame in our hallowed halls.”

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