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‘Like Talking to Your Drunk Uncle’: Trump’s Closed-Door Rant to House Republicans

Donald Trump came to Capitol Hill to talk about his agenda for a second term. He instead spent an hour delving into House GOP drama, cracking jokes and saying weird things about Nancy Pelosi’s daughters.

Former President Donald Trump pointing
Former President Donald Trump speaks at an election night party in Nashua, N.H. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Donald Trump came to the Capitol Hill Club Thursday morning supposedly to discuss his agenda for a second term with House Republicans. Instead, Trump treated his meeting as an opportunity to deliver a behind-closed-doors, stream-of-consciousness rant where Trump tried to settle scores in the House GOP, trashed the city of Milwaukee and took a shot at Nancy Pelosi’s “wacko” daughter.

As one source in the room put it, Trump was “rambling.”

“Like talking to your drunk uncle at the family reunion,” this source said.

Lawmakers who attended the meeting — which was nearly the entire House GOP conference — kicked off the affair with their own show of devotion: They sang “Happy Birthday” to Trump. The former president, who turns 78 on Friday, was then presented with a game ball from Wednesday night’s Congressional Baseball Game, where Republicans whooped Democrats 31-11.

Once sufficiently buttered up, Trump floated his plans to help House Republicans build their majority next term. He suggested attending virtual town hall meetings for sitting members of Congress to help give them a boost with MAGA faithful voters. (Trump is scheduled to attend a virtual town hall this weekend for the GOP challenger to Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good of Virginia, according to a source familiar with the matter.)

In a show of support for Speaker Mike Johnson, a source told NOTUS that Trump jokingly asked Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene to cut the speaker a break.

“Are you being nice to him?” Trump asked Greene, who called for a vote to remove Johnson in May.

Trump also name-checked Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina. The former president congratulated the congresswoman for beating a primary challenger on Tuesday — a challenger who was backed by former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana also had his moment in the Trump spotlight. Sources told NOTUS that the former president delivered an extended monologue about his love for the No. 2 House Republican, recalling Scalise’s time in the hospital after he was shot in 2017 during a practice for the Congressional Baseball Game.

“I saw him in the hospital,” Trump said, according to a source. “I can tell your wife really loves you, Steve, because some wives wouldn’t care.”

Trump also mentioned meeting with Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Sources said that Trump grossly overstated his chances in the blue state, claiming he’s leading the presidential race in Virginia by two points.

On the other end of the spectrum, Trump dumped on a number of his enemies, railing against the Department of Justice — he called the DOJ “dirty bastards” — and criticized Democrats and President Joe Biden.

Lawmakers told NOTUS that Trump blasted Biden for canceling a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his presidency. Trump also advised Republicans to hit Biden and Democrats on inflation and the border. And he called Biden’s push to expand electric vehicle use “the dumbest thing,” according to another source in the room.

He also brought up Taylor Swift, asking the room why the pop singer would “endorse this dope,” referring to Biden, according to a member in the room.

Regarding his own platform, Trump touched on perhaps the thorniest subject facing the GOP: abortion. He warned that Republicans are “afraid of the issue” and that it cost them “40 seats.”

Trump suggested abortion only became a “complex issue” 10 years ago, according to Punchbowl.

“Everyone wanted it back in the states, and we got it back in the states, sometimes good, sometimes not good, some states went one way and some states went a different way,” he reportedly said, referencing the fallout from the overturn of Roe v. Wade by Trump-appointed justices.

On foreign policy, Trump told lawmakers that, if he were in office, he would have prevented war in Ukraine, as well as prevented Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Russian ships off the coast of Cuba were also of particular interest to Trump, earning him a standing ovation from the only Cuban-born lawmaker, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.

When it came to economic policy, Trump said he “loves tariffs” and said he “saved the steel industry,” according to Punchbowl.

A source told NOTUS that Trump also polled the room about a new idea he pledged last weekend during a rally in Nevada: eliminating taxes on workers’ tips.

“Anyone like no tax on tips?” Trump asked.

But Trump also hit a number of weirder topics that were completely unrelated to policy. At one point, he joked that the fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter was a “nice guy,” according to one of the sources in the room. “He even had a friend over for dinner,” Trump said, according to that source, in a joke about cannibalism.

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Trump also laid into Jeff Roe, a top former strategist for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential run. Trump said Roe — who directed millions of dollars through firms he controlled while advising DeSantis — “does surgery on candidates’ wallets.”

But perhaps the most bizarre moment of all was Trump’s rant about one of Pelosi’s daughters. Trump told House Republicans that she once told him, “If things were different, Nancy and I would be perfect together.”

“There’s an age difference though,” said Trump, who is about six years younger than Pelosi and 24 years older than his wife, Melania.

Pelosi’s daughter Christine almost immediately refuted Trump’s claim on X. Speaking for all four Pelosi daughters, she denied Trump’s claim and condemned the former president as “unwell, unhinged and unfit to step foot anywhere near her — or the White House.”

Toward the end of his roughly one-hour speech, Trump proved the sheer randomness of his affections.

For instance, Milwaukee, the host city for the Republican National Convention next month, is apparently on Trump’s bad side. Trump called Milwaukee “a horrible city,” according to Punchbowl.

(Rep. Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin later refuted claims that Trump was trashing Milwaukee directly. Van Orden claimed Trump was criticizing Milwaukee’s “crime rate.”)

While Trump clearly tried to keep the crowd entertained, he couldn’t apparently hold everyone’s attention the entire time.

As the U.S. Open began Thursday, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, who initially endorsed DeSantis in the GOP primary, was spotted by a source in the room watching golf on his iPad.

Riley Rogerson and Reese Gorman are reporters at NOTUS.