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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “The enemy is within the House of Representatives, a threat that members are concerned about, in addition to what is happening outside.”

Open hostility broke out among Republicans and Democrats in Congress on Thursday amid growing fears of physical violence and looming domestic terrorism threats from supporters of former president Donald Trump, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leveling an extraordinary allegation that dangers lurk among the membership itself.

“The enemy is within the House of Representatives, a threat that members are concerned about, in addition to what is happening outside,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a Thursday morning news conference.

But even as she and others sounded the alarm, Republicans continued to deepen their ties to the former president, who has been impeached for his role in inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. 

Hours after Pelosi’s remarks, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) met with Trump in Florida. In a statement, the pair vowed to work together to take back the House. On Thursday afternoon, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a Trump acolyte, traveled to the district of Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), a member of the House GOP leadership, to hold a rally criticizing her vote to impeach Trump earlier this month.

The events reflected the extent to which the country’s legislative branch, which has for years been mired in partisan bickering, has reached new levels of animosity just as newly inaugurated President Biden is seeking to win passage of a massive bill designed to help lift the country out of the pandemic.

Some Democrats are expressing fears that Republican lawmakers — who in some cases have tried bringing weapons onto the House floor — cannot be trusted. Some have bought bulletproof vests and are seeking other protections.

And Democratic leaders are putting maximum pressure on the Republican leadership to denounce freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who once endorsed violence against members of Congress. One Democrat advanced a resolution to expel her from Congress.

Greene, a onetime far-right online commentator, has a history of promoting violent ideas and beliefs. This week, social media postings surfaced showing she had liked Facebook posts that advocated for violence against Democrats, including one that suggested shooting Pelosi in the head.

Greene also spread conspiracy theories that the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people was a “false flag,” and new videos showed her stalking and harassing teenage David Hogg, a Parkland student turned advocate for stricter gun safety laws.

Pelosi and other senior Democrats have called on McCarthy and other senior Republican leaders to address Greene’s social media comments. Democrats were incensed that Greene was given a spot on the House Education and Labor Committee, given her comments about the Parkland shooting.

“Assigning her to the education committee, when she has mocked the killing of little children” at school, “what could they be thinking, or is thinking too generous a word for what they might be doing?” Pelosi said. “It’s absolutely appalling.”

Greene responded to the Democrats’ criticism in an emailed statement: “Democrats and their spokesmen in the Fake News Media will stop at nothing to defeat conservative Republicans. They are coming after me because I’m a threat to their goal of Socialism. They are coming after me because they know I represent the people, not the politicians..”

Through a spokesman McCarthy described Greene’s comments as “deeply disturbing.

“Leader McCarthy plans to have a conversation with the congresswoman about them,” a McCarthy spokesman said, though he did not elaborate further.

The GOP leader spent his day in West Palm Beach with Trump, formulating a plan for Republicans to take back the House in 2022. In a statement after the meeting, Trump’s super PAC Save America issued a warning shot to Republicans who cross him: “President Trump’s popularity has never been stronger than it is today, and his endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time.”

McCarthy’s has long struggled with how to address Greene, highlighting the current predicament for House GOP leaders, whose party attracts an increasingly virulent anti-establishment, conspiratorial base.

Just weeks after GOP voters chose to oust one persistent headache for party leaders — Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who had a long history of racist rhetoric — reporters unearthed videos of Greene, then a candidate for office, making disparaging remarks about African Americans, Muslims and Jewish megadonor George Soros.

McCarthy denounced the comments through a spokesman but did little subsequently to intervene over the following weeks in the primary runoff against a more conventional GOP candidate.

But other Republicans say McCarthy and other leaders could have done more to persuade Trump — the only Republican with credibility with rural Georgia voters — to intervene.

Greene ended up winning by 15 percentage points, calling it a “badge of honor” on election night that the “D.C. swamp has been against me.”

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Trump tweeted the next day: “Marjorie is strong on everything and never gives up — a real WINNER!”

After November’s elections, McCarthy found his standing in the House GOP at an all-time high after Republicans beat expectations, cutting the Democratic majority to single digits after most forecasters had predicted Democrats would gain seats.

Despite Trump’s loss, McCarthy hewed closely to the outgoing president — backing up his false claims of a stolen election, even after his Senate counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), declared Biden the winner on Dec. 15.

Instead, McCarthy signaled to Republicans that he would back Trump’s election fraud claims to the very end — at the Jan. 6 vote to certify the electoral college tally.

The politics could not have been clearer for McCarthy, who was among the first senior Republican leaders to intuitively sense Trump’s appeal to voters in 2016. Breaking with the soon-to-be-ex-president — then and now an overwhelmingly popular figure among GOP voters — would threaten his 14-year climb up the party leadership, with the speaker’s chair just within his grasp.

But the riot at the Capitol scrambled that calculation. As the pro-Trump mob ransacked the seat of Congress, McCarthy was among the most senior officials calling Trump and begging that he make a public statement denouncing the violence. Later that night, after the House returned to session, he called the riot “unacceptable, undemocratic and un-American” and said it was “the saddest day I have ever had serving as a member of this institution.”

He then voted with the vast majority of Republicans to challenge the electoral votes of two states won by Biden.

McCarthy kept largely quiet over the following week as House Democrats moved toward impeaching Trump. While some Republicans privately floated alternatives that might have garnered bipartisan support with a push from GOP leaders, McCarthy only endorsed censure until just hours before the House voted to impeach Trump.

“The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” he said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”

Those, however, would be the last critical words McCarthy would speak about Trump for the coming weeks as the internal GOP backlash grew against the 10 Republicans who supported impeachment — most prominently his third in command, House GOP Conference Chair Cheney.

McCarthy’s office issued a terse statement backing Cheney the next day. Last week, he qualified it further, saying there were “questions that need to be answered,” including about the “style in which things were delivered.”

Back in Cheney’s Wyoming district, Gaetz held a rally Thursday to bash her. Donald Trump Jr. phoned in to pile on and call for her defeat in the next election.

Amid this month’s public reckoning over the state of the Republican Party, McCarthy was engaged in a behind-the-scenes effort to patch up relations with Trump — who has made clear his desire to remain a Republican kingmaker, if not a future GOP presidential nominee. In a syndicated TV interview aired Sunday with host Greta Van Susteren, McCarthy inched further away from his previous comments saying Trump “had some responsibility when it came to the response” to the riot, while adding, “I also think everybody across this country has some responsibility.”

The pitched battle over Greene’s threat to Congress comes against the backdrop of the looming Senate impeachment trial of Trump in which the vast majority of Republicans are likely to vote to acquit him.

On the other side of the Capitol, Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) is seeking to have Greene expelled and is asking every GOP lawmaker for their support.

“I’ve been getting a lot of support from colleagues, even Republican colleagues who are saying some positive things, but they’re nervous,” Gomez said in an interview.

He warned that if Greene’s rhetoric goes unchallenged, “things are going to get a lot worse.”

Other Democrats said Republicans’ refusal to acknowledge that Biden legitimately won the election is fueling the threat of violence.

On Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) publicly admonished Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a leader of the election challenges, after he signaled support for her position on an unrelated issue.

“I am happy to work with Republicans on this issue where there’s common ground, but you almost had me murdered 3 weeks ago so you can sit this one out,” she said on Twitter. “Happy to work w/ almost any other GOP that aren’t trying to get me killed.”

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Donald Trump

Trump unleashes scathing statement blasting Sen. Mitch McConnell

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Former President Donald Trump issued a scathing statement on Tuesday in which he excoriated Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Trump said in the statement.

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Trump acquitted in impeachment trial; 7 GOP Senators vote with Democrats to convict

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The Senate on Saturday voted to acquit former President Donald Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection largely along party lines, bringing an end to the fourth impeachment trial in U.S. history and the second for Trump.

Only seven Republicans voted to convict Trump for allegedly inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, when a mob of pro-Trump supporters tried to disrupt the electoral vote count formalizing Joe Biden’s election win before a joint session of Congress. The final vote was 57 to 43, far short of the 67 votes needed to secure a conviction.

Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania all voted guilty.

The vote means the Senate cannot bar Trump from holding future federal offices.

Moments after the vote concluded, the former president issued a statement praising his legal team and thanking the senators and other members of Congress “who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.”

With control of the Senate split 50-50, the House managers always had an uphill battle when it came to convincing enough Republicans to cross party lines and convict a former president who is still very popular with a large part of the GOP base.

In his closing argument, House manager Joe Neguse, D-Colo., argued, “The stakes could not be higher. Because the cold, hard truth is that what happened on January 6 can happen again. I fear, like many of you do, that the violence we saw on that terrible day may be just the beginning.”

Lead impeachment manager Jamie Raskin, D-Md., urged the senators to think of the future.

“Senators, this trial, in the final analysis, is not about Donald Trump. The country and the world know who Donald Trump is. This trial is about who we are, who we are,” Raskin said.

Trump lawyer Michael van der Veen, meanwhile, insisted his client did nothing wrong and maintained he was the victim of vengeful Democrats and a biased news media. He called the impeachment proceedings a “charade from beginning to end.”

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The managers’ task became more difficult Saturday when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in an email to his colleagues that he would vote to acquit since Trump was already out of office.

“While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction,” the influential Kentucky Republican wrote in the email, which was obtained by NBC News.

McConnell, who’d rebuffed Democratic efforts to start the trial while Trump was still in office, had condemned Trump’s conduct after the riot and said he’d keep an open mind about voting to convict — something he’d ruled out entirely during Trump’s first impeachment trial last year.

McConnell suggested in the email that Trump could still face other penalties.

“The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling ‘January exception’ argument raised by the House,” he wrote.

Opening arguments began on Wednesday, with House managers blaming the riot on Trump’s months-long campaign to cast doubt on the 2020 election, and his repeated assertions that the only way he would lose was if the election was “stolen.” They focused on his fiery speech on the morning of the Jan. 6 riot, where he urged his supporters to “fight like hell” — and his refusal to take action after they did.

Trump declined a request from managers to testify at the trial, and refused to even submit a statement for it, facts Raskin urged senators to keep in mind on Saturday.

“I ask any of you, if you were charged with inciting violent insurrection against our country, and you’re falsely accused, would you come and testify? I know I would,” Raskin said.

The trial was the fourth of an impeached president. No president has ever been convicted.

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Donald Trump

New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters

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Washington (CNN)In an expletive-laced phone call with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy while the Capitol was under attack, then-President Donald Trump said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did.”Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call afterward by McCarthy.McCarthy insisted that the rioters were Trump’s supporters and begged Trump to call them off.Trump’s comment set off what Republican lawmakers familiar with the call described as a shouting match between the two men. A furious McCarthy told the President the rioters were breaking into his office through the windows, and asked Trump, “Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?” according to a Republican lawmaker familiar with the call.

The newly revealed details of the call, described to CNN by multiple Republicans briefed on it, provide critical insight into the President’s state of mind as rioters were overrunning the Capitol. The existence of the call and some of its details have been previously reported and discussed publicly by McCarthy.The Republican members of Congress said the exchange showed Trump had no intention of calling off the rioters even as lawmakers were pleading with him to intervene. Several said it amounted to a dereliction of his presidential duty.

“He is not a blameless observer, he was rooting for them,” a Republican member of Congress said. “On January 13, Kevin McCarthy said on the floor of the House that the President bears responsibility and he does.”Speaking to the President from inside the besieged Capitol, McCarthy pressed Trump to call off his supporters and engaged in a heated disagreement about who comprised the crowd. Trump’s comment about the would-be insurrectionists caring more about the election results than McCarthy did was first mentioned by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington state, in a town hall earlier this week, and was confirmed to CNN by Herrera Beutler and other Republicans briefed on the conversation.”You have to look at what he did during the insurrection to confirm where his mind was at,” Herrera Beutler, one of 10 House Republicans who voted last month to impeach Trump, told CNN. “That line right there demonstrates to me that either he didn’t care, which is impeachable, because you cannot allow an attack on your soil, or he wanted it to happen and was OK with it, which makes me so angry.””We should never stand for that, for any reason, under any party flag,” she added, voicing her extreme frustration: “I’m trying really hard not to say the F-word.””I think it speaks to the former President’s mindset,” said Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican who also voted to impeach Trump last month. “He was not sorry to see his unyieldingly loyal vice president or the Congress under attack by the mob he inspired. In fact, it seems he was happy about it or at the least enjoyed the scenes that were horrifying to most Americans across the country.”As senators prepare to determine Trump’s fate, multiple Republicans thought the details of the call were important to the proceedings because they believe it paints a damning portrait of Trump’s lack of action during the attack. At least one of the sources who spoke to CNN took detailed notes of McCarthy’s recounting of the call.Trump and McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment.It took Trump several hours after the attack began to eventually encourage his supporters to “go home in peace” — a tweet that came at the urging of his top aides.At Trump’s impeachment trial Friday, his lawyers argued that Trump did in fact try to calm the rioters with a series of tweets while the attack unfolded. But his lawyers cherry-picked his tweets, focusing on his request for supporters to “remain peaceful” without mentioning that he also attacked then-Vice President Mike Pence and waited hours to explicitly urge rioters to leave the Capitol.A source close to Pence said Trump’s legal team was not telling the truth when attorney Michael van der Veen said at the trial that “at no point” did the then-President know his vice president was in danger.Asked whether van der Veen was lying, the source said, “Yes.” Former Pence aides are still fuming over Trump’s actions on January 6, insisting he never checked on the vice president as Pence was being rushed from danger by his US Secret Service detail.It’s unclear to what extent these new details were known by the House Democratic impeachment managers or whether the team considered calling McCarthy as a witness. The managers have preserved the option to call witnesses in the ongoing impeachment trial, although that option remains unlikely as the trial winds down.The House Republican leader had been forthcoming with his conference about details of his conversations with Trump on and after January 6.Trump himself has not taken any responsibility in public.

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