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House conservatives try to plan Trump trial visit

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A large House GOP group is discussing a trip to New York to back up Donald Trump at his hush money trial, according to four Republicans familiar with the matter — joining a growing GOP trend.

Those lawmakers considering a Thursday visit, which is not yet finalized, include a chunk of the House Freedom Caucus, two of those people told POLITICO, granted anonymity to discuss fluid discussions. Members of that conservative group are being particularly tight-lipped in case a busy House schedule this week delays their plans.

Roughly 16 people from the House Freedom Caucus are eyeing a trip to New York, one of those people said. Chair Bob Good (R-Va.), whose primary opponent has made Good’s initial backing of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis a wedge issue in the race, is among those included in the discussions, according to that person.

“Every Republican should go support President Trump,” said Good, who declined to comment on whether he was making the trip and whether he has spoken to the former president about attending.

Trump has had a packed list of notable GOP names acting as surrogates as they visit the scene of his trial. They include Speaker Mike Johnson, Sens. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and past GOP presidential candidates Doug Burgum and Vivek Ramaswamy.

Many have attacked both the case and the judge while Trump himself remains under a judge-mandated gag order, with some specifying they decided to come themselves and that Trump did not ask them to do so. The gag order also blocks the former president from “directing others” to publicly criticize those involved in the case.

Underscoring the political sensitivity of the trip, a typically media friendly Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) echoed Good in refusing to discuss the potential visit. He warned: “You won’t find anybody who will say anything.”

But Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a member of the group, acknowledged that there were “conversations” about going up to New York to support Trump. However, he added, they were juggling that with the need to be in D.C.

To that end, Republicans are navigating a myriad of dynamics with the House schedule, including two high-profile committee votes on holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress that are expected to eat up a decent chunk of Thursday. The House will also vote on reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday, keeping members in town. The Trump trial isn’t slated to be in session on Friday, when the House has a lighter schedule.

The trial could go to the jury as soon as Monday, if prosecution rests on Thursday.

And there’s an extra level of sensitivity. Some of the House Republicans involved in the discussions — including Good, Norman and Roy — didn’t initially endorse Trump in the presidential primary.

Asked about making the trek, Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said it depended on the schedule, pointing to both Thursday’s contempt markup and an unrelated hearing on Wednesday.

“I want to be there with President Trump,” Jordan said in a brief interview, “but it’s also important to get these two hearings as well.”