Trump’s Capitol Hill visit brings a rare moment of GOP unity: From the Politics Desk

Welcome to the online version of From the Politics Desk, an evening newsletter that brings you the NBC News Politics team’s latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, NBC News’ Capitol Hill team recaps Donald Trump’s visit with House and Senate Republicans. Plus, senior political reporter Jonathan Allen details why the “Blue Wall” is Joe Biden’s best bet to reach 270 electoral votes.

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Trump’s Capitol Hill visit brings a rare moment of GOP unity

By Scott Wong, Sahil Kapur, Ali Vitali and Julie Tsirkin

Three and a half years ago, then-President Donald Trump incited a violent riot at the Capitol in a bid to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory and remain in power, a special House committee concluded after a lengthy investigation.

On Thursday, Trump made his first visit to Capitol Hill since before the Jan. 6 attack as Republicans gave a hero’s welcome to their party’s presumptive 2024 nominee.

The closed-door meetings with House and Senate Republicans represented a rare moment of unity for a party that has been engaged in a civil war since that day.

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Here are the top moments from Trump’s trip to Washington:

Mending fences: Trump made peace with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who had blamed the former president for the deadly Capitol riot. The two men had not spoken since December 2020. McConnell said he and Trump shook hands several times Thursday, calling it “a good meeting” and an “entirely positive session.”

Trump delivered a message about “unity,” one source in his meeting with House Republicans said. He offered to do tele-town halls for members facing tough races and stressed that Republicans should not attack one another.

At one point, two sources said, Trump implored a close ally, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., to get along with Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., whom she attempted to oust from power. 

“Marjorie, are you being nice to Mike?” Trump asked, the sources said, eliciting laughter from House Republicans. One source who observed Greene’s reaction said she made a “sort of” hand gesture, which Greene herself confirmed afterward.

Abortion caution: Trump acknowledged that the issue of abortion rights had cost Republicans and that it’s too important to ignore, while adding it’s now back in the hands of the people and the states. He also voiced support for abortion policy that includes exceptions like in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. 

“We’re the party of common sense” on this and other key issues, Trump told the lawmakers. Members in the room had mixed reactions to his abortion riff, the sources said.

Bashing Milwaukee: Trump also took a shot at Milwaukee, which is hosting the Republican National Convention. The former president called the city, the most populous in the battleground state of Wisconsin, “horrible” and overrun by crime, a source said, adding that no one in the room disagreed with him.

Read more from Trump’s day on Capitol Hill →

Biden’s ‘clearest path’ to victory runs through the Rust Belt (and Omaha) 

By Jonathan Allen

If Biden loses in November, his aides may regret the spending decisions they’re making right now.

The “clearest path” for Biden to win re-election runs through Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — the three states that flipped to the Republicans in 2016 and back to the Democrats in 2020 — according to Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who serves as co-chairman on the campaign, and many other Democratic strategists.

If Biden keeps those states, along with Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District, he can lose the rest of the swing states and still amass exactly the 270 electoral votes he needs to secure a second term.

But Biden campaign officials are convinced that it’s a mistake to put all their eggs atop the “Blue Wall.” Flush with early campaign cash, they are also deploying staff, surrogates and ad dollars to Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada.

They could be right that Biden is best served by pursuing all the permutations that could lead to an Electoral College majority.

Simple arithmetic dictates that winning 16 electoral votes in Georgia or North Carolina, or 11 in Arizona, would more than make up for losing 10 in Wisconsin. Likewise, holding Nevada’s six electoral votes would outweigh losing the 2nd District in Nebraska, which awards a single elector for each congressional district a candidate wins. 

But polls consistently show Biden trailing in Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada. Moreover, with the exception of Nevada, those states have been weaker for Democrats than the Rust Belt trio in recent presidential elections.

Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin are the “must have” states, according to Faiz Shakir, a Democratic strategist who ran Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign.

There’s a very modern model for winning the presidency by focusing on those three states: It’s how Trump claimed the Oval Office in 2016. At the time, Hillary Clinton’s campaign team talked a lot about the value of pursuing multiple paths to 270 electoral votes. As it turned out, they were all cut off by Trump’s performance in the Rust Belt. 

So, while political junkies play with the electoral map to see how they can produce 270 votes for one candidate or the other, the most valuable turf hasn’t changed.

Biden aides say it is way too early for triage. But in yet another election that promises to be close, it could get late soon.

🗞️ Today’s top stories

  • ⚖️ Decision day: The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the abortion pill mifepristone, meaning the commonly used drug can remain widely available. The court ruled the plaintiffs did not have legal standing, so the issues raised could return to the court in another case. Read more →
  • ⚖️ Decision day, cont.: In other rulings Thursday, the Supreme Court sided with Starbucks in a labor dispute and rebuffed an attempt to trademark the phrase “Trump too small,” a reference to a crude joke about the former president. Read more →
  • 🐘 Just in case: NBC News’ Matt Dixon scoops that Trump is preparing for the possibility that he might not be able to attend the Republican National Convention next month, in part because he could be sentenced to home confinement after his conviction in the hush money trial. Read more →
  • 🛑 Protest zone: A group of Senate Republicans threatened to block consideration of Biden’s judicial nominees in protest of Trump’s guilty verdict. Read more →
  • 🗳️ IVF votes: The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, voted in favor of a resolution opposing in vitro fertilization on Wednesday. And on Thursday, Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic-led bill to codify broad federal protections for the procedure. Read more →
  • 🇺🇦 Reaffirming support: Biden and his counterparts from other major democratic nations reached a deal at the G7 Summit to give Ukraine a $50 billion loan this year backed by frozen Russian assets. Read more →
  • 🏈 Sooner State showdown: Longtime Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., is facing his most competitive primary in two decades on Tuesday. His race against a wealthy opponent has also leaned into a storied college sports rivalry. Read more →
  • 📺 Your TV is watching you: Political campaigns are receiving a trove of valuable information from Smart TVs, giving them the ability to target voters with highly specific ads. But there’s little transparency around the process, as NOTUS reports. Read more →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at

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