Trump met with GOP lawmakers in D.C., patched up broken relationship with Senate Leader McConnell

 June 14, 2024

By all accounts, former President Donald Trump and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who never had a particularly warm relationship to begin with, hadn't met with or even spoken to each other since the disputed aftermath of the 2020 election.

That suddenly changed on Thursday with little advance notice as the former president and Senate leader had a "positive" face-to-face interaction amid a broader meeting Trump held with GOP lawmakers in Washington D.C., according to the Washington Examiner.

Trump was on Capitol Hill for the first time since leaving office to meet separately with House and Senate Republicans to both rally supporters and "mend fences" with detractors while strategizing for GOP victories ahead of November's elections.

First meeting in more than three years for Trump and McConnell

ABC News reported that the last time former President Trump and Sen. McConnell spoke was by telephone on Dec. 15, 2020, after the Senate leader gave a speech on the Senate floor recognizing then-President-elect Joe Biden's victory while Trump was still challenging the reported results and claiming victory.

That rift was further deepened about two months later when, following Trump's second impeachment trial and acquittal, McConnell delivered another floor speech in which he asserted that the former president bore responsibility for "provoking" the Jan. 6 Capitol riot with his "false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole" about alleged election fraud.

Yet, it would appear that those differences have been set aside more than three years later, at least for the moment, given the need for Republican unity in the lead-up to the 2024 elections this fall, as McConnell seemed to indicate to reporters on Wednesday when asked about the imminent meeting with the former president.

"I said three years ago, right after the Capitol was attacked, that I would support our nominee regardless of who it was -- including him," McConnell said of Trump on Wednesday. "I've said earlier this year, I support him -- he's earned the nomination by the voters all across the country. And of course, I'll be at the meeting tomorrow."

After the meeting with Trump on Thursday, the Senate GOP Leader told reporters, "We had a really positive meeting. He and I got a chance to talk a little bit and shook hands a few times. He got a lot of standing ovations. It was an entirely positive meeting. Mitt Romney was there as well," and added, "I can't think of anything to tell you out of it that was negative. I thought it was an entirely positive meeting."

Fist bumps and future plans

Axios reported that in addition to shaking hands, Trump and McConnell also shared a "fist bump," according to Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), a member of the leadership team who invited the former president to speak to the Senate GOP conference.

The purpose of the meeting with Trump, per Barrasso, was to ensure the Senate would "be prepared to go the day that he gets into the White House. So we'll be prepared, ready, and have a plan to get a strong cabinet confirmed, and to make sure that the agenda that's going to get America back on track can be moved forward quickly."

One unnamed source at the meeting told the outlet that it was "warm and cordial" and said that Trump "commended McConnell for efforts to grow the Senate majority over the years," while another anonymous source described the "very positive energy" of the meeting and the wide range of topics that were discussed.

Trump described as "subdued," "respectful," and "extremely gracious" during Senate GOP meeting

The Examiner reported that Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) described Trump's demeanor during the meeting as "subdued" and "respectful," which he found "frankly surprising," and further said that the former president "was very encouraging, affirming. I didn’t detect any kind of underhanded little barbs or 'Some of you were wrong about me.' There was none of that, like, zero. It was extremely gracious."

The Missouri senator further observed that Trump did make mention of past "disagreements" with some of the senators but didn't dwell on them and instead was largely focused on a message of "Let’s all unite. I appreciate you being here for me, and I’m going to be there for you."

The outlet noted that of the four remaining Republican senators who voted to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial in 2021, only Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) chose not to attend the meeting, as Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) were there, though it is not believed that they interacted with the former president.

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