Two weeks after Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House’s top Republican, angered Donald J. Trump by saying he held the former president responsible for the violent mob attack on Capitol Hill, the two men stood together. are met on Thursday for what the assistants described as cordial “and sought to present a united front.
The meeting at Mr. Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., Came two weeks after Mr. McCarthy, in a speech to the House, said the former president “bears responsibility” for the events of the January 6, when a crowd of his supporters stormed the Capitol after a rally in which Mr. Trump urged them to “fight like hell” against his electoral defeat.
It was the latest evidence that top Republicans, many of whom had harshly criticized Mr. Trump after the assault, quickly got back in line behind him and wooing his support as he faces a second impeachment trial .
While Mr. McCarthy, a California Republican, voted against the impeachment article, Mr. Trump was enraged at the speech he gave just before he did so, advisers said.
Since then, aides to the two have tried to cause a thaw between the two, even as Mr. Trump has targeted other Republicans who criticized him more harshly for his role in the Capitol breach and voted in favor of his dismissal. Among them were Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Republican No.3, who joined nine other party members who voted to impeach Mr. Trump for “incitement to insurgency.”
Mr Trump’s advisers have sought to highlight his remaining popularity with Republican voters as the Senate trial is expected to begin in less than two weeks. All but five Republicans voted Tuesday to dismiss the impeachment case against him as unconstitutional, reflecting how reluctant members of his party are to abandon Mr. Trump even after he leaves.
On Thursday, aides posted a photo of Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Trump posing together in one of the ornate rooms at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago club, and issued a statement calling the meeting “very good. and cordial ”. The statement bore the hallmarks of Mr Trump’s explosive and often false claims about himself, wrongly claiming that “his popularity has never been as strong as it is today.”
“His approval means more than maybe any approval at any time,” added the statement, issued by Mr. Trump’s Save America Political Action Committee, saying Mr. Trump had agreed to work with Mr. McCarthy to try to resume the House. majority in 2022.
Mr. McCarthy’s own statement was visibly less focused on Mr. Trump personally and more on the broader effort to win Republican seats in the House.
“Today, President Trump pledged to help Republicans elected to the House and Senate in 2022,” McCarthy said, adding, “A united conservative movement will strengthen the bonds of our citizens and uphold freedoms on which our country was founded. ”
Their meeting came shortly before an ally of Mr. Trump, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, made an appearance in Wyoming to attack Ms. Cheney for her vote to impeach Mr. Trump. Mr McCarthy was already in Florida on a fundraising trip, and the meeting was added to his schedule, officials said.
Mr McCarthy, people close to him have said, has come under attack from almost all sides as members of his caucus who are allies of Mr Trump have pushed to fight harder to defend him. After the speech that angered Mr. Trump, Mr. McCarthy tempered his criticism, saying he did not believe the former president had “provoked” the attack on Capitol Hill, and that if Mr. Trump wore “some responsibility, “” everyone across this country. “
Mr McCarthy has made no secret of his desire to be president, which could happen if Republicans get the House back.
And his party is now in the unstable position of having a de facto leader in Mr. Trump, whose approval rating among all Americans is low, but who remains popular with a majority of his voters.