Congress slips away before Trump indictment

Congress slips away before Trump indictment

Presented by

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 28: U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) arrives for a press conference following a House Republican meeting at the U.S. Capitol on March 28, 2023 in Washington, DC. The Republicans met to discuss their new energy plan which would increase domestic energy production and eases environmental review on energy and mining projects.  (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Lawmakers were already gone for recess by the time Trump was indicted on Thursday, but House Majority Leader Steve Scalise called the indictment “outrageous” on Twitter. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch) | Getty Images

The historic indictment of former President Donald Trump last night, in some ways, let Congress off the hook. The Thursday evening timing of the indictment was a blessing for lawmakers in both parties, who had left the Capitol hours before to start the two-week Easter and Passover recess.

Sure, the carefully prepared official statements started flowing soon after the news broke. But lawmakers in both parties slipped out of Washington before they could face a non-stop barrage of questions about Trump at every turn.

Republicans unleashed rage at Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg after the grand jury voted on Thursday afternoon for the indictment.

GOP defends Trump, attacks Brag:

  • “Bragg down grades NYC felonies to misdemeanors and when it comes indicting Pres Trump Bragg upgrades a misdemeanor to a felony,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tweeted.
  • “The Department of Justice already looked into the facts and decided there was no case to be made against President Trump. This is the same District Attorney who is notorious for letting violent criminals off the hook in Manhattan, but has been laser focused on pursuing a politicized prosecution of a former President.” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) said in a statement.
  • Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) made no promises of specific action but said the House would “hold Alvin Bragg and his unprecedented abuse of power to account” and that Bragg “has irreparably damaged our country in an attempt to interfere in our Presidential election.”
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) seemed to offer a wish list for Bragg, referencing the fate of another DA: “Wonder if DA Bragg remembers Durham DA Mike Nifong who withheld exculpatory DNA tests on the Duke lacrosse players. He was subsequently forced out of office, disbarred, and convicted of contempt of court.”

Related reads: Hill Republicans sprint to Trump’s corner before indictment details are clear, from Kyle Cheney; Republican leaders and Trump loyalists on Capitol Hill rally behind the former president after indictment, from Lauren Fox and Melanie Zanona, CNN

Ahead of the indictment, Olivia and Burgess interviewed more than 40 Republicans on Capitol Hill (including 32 Freedom Caucus members) and revealed that Trump’s once-ardent supporters are going quiet about whether they back him for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, despite new polling that shows him widening his primary lead.

Will Thursday’s indictment rally the GOP around its standard bearer? That remains to be seen. But the former president’s power over Hill Republicans was on the decline, even as 2024 his challengers have largely not yet begun to ramp up their outreach to Capitol Hill.

Democrats react:

  • “Mr. Trump is subject to the same laws as every American. He will be able to avail himself of the legal system and a jury, not politics, to determine his fate according to the facts and the law,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement on Thursday night.
  • “The grand jury has acted upon the facts and the law. No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence. Hopefully, the former president will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right,” said former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
  • Meanwhile, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) doesn’t need your (or anyone’s) premature thoughts: “Just a reminder that there is no rule that you have to express your opinion before reading the indictment,” he tweeted.

Deadline reminder: Three House Republican committee chairs, including Judiciary Chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) and House Administration Committee Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), sent a letter before the indictment requesting testimony from Bragg and information related to his investigation into Trump. Bragg’s office pushed back, but the Republican chairmen have doubled down and set their deadline for today at 10 a.m.

Catch up on the basics: Trump indicted in porn star hush money payment case, from Erica Orden, Meredith McGraw and Kelly Garrity; Your questions about the Trump indictment, answered, from Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney

A message from the Association of American Railroads:

America’s freight railroads are driving toward a future with zero incidents and injuries. We’re working as hard as possible to prevent future derailments by instituting new comprehensive practices and technologies. Our safety standards have long exceeded what is federally required and now we’re taking that even further. Learn how we’re going to keep getting safer.

GOOD MORNING! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this Friday, March 31, where this will be the soundtrack of your Huddle host’s recess.

DEBT BACKUP PLAN — The “five families” among House Republicans met in one room with a bunch of pizza and a lot to say about President Joe Biden and the impending debt ceiling. There are just weeks until the elusive “X date,” when the debt ceiling will be breached, threatening a massive and lasting economic turmoil … but the two key players aren’t talking. McCarthy and President Joe Biden are in a standoff.

That has House Republicans mulling their own legislation if McCarthy and Biden never get on the same track. They’re using McCarthy’s letter to Biden from earlier this week as a roadmap. Biden doesn’t want to negotiate with Republicans because he wants a “clean” debt ceiling increase, without concessions to Republicans on deficit-reducing measures.

The House GOP doesn’t have enough votes right now to pass a budget but Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) said “I’m confident we could get there if we needed to” on debt limit legislation. More from Sarah on what the House GOP is cooking up.

A DIFFERENT INDICTMENT — A grand jury has indicted the man suspected of assaulting Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.), on three federal counts, including assault against a member of Congress. Kendrid Hamlin, who allegedly attacked Craig in the elevator of her Washington apartment building, has also been charged with assaulting a police officer who was engaged in her “official duties” on the same day as Craig’s attack. Scott McFarlane at ABC News has more.

ON THE HORIZON — Congress hit the road with plenty of to-do-list items hanging over it, but the recess could be just the reset needed.

Roster problems: In the Senate, both parties are hoping that the recess can bring them closer to having a full roster. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) is slated to return to work the week the Senate returns from the two-week Easter and Passover recess.

Return dates are not set for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is back home, but still in physical therapy after a fall and concussion on March 8, or for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who is recovering from shingles.

Being at full strength could smooth Democrats’ efforts to move the nomination of Labor secretary nominee Julie Su and Biden’s federal court picks that don’t have GOP backing.

Speaking of nominees… Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) made clear that there won’t be a resolution anytime soon in his standoff with Senate Democrats and the White House over the Pentagon’s new abortion access policies. His blockade on military promotions will last through the recess, at least.

“See you in two weeks,” he said.

RECAST POWER LIST — Our friends at The Recast newsletter just published a Power List naming the 40 most influential people on culture, race and politics. There are Republicans and Democrats whose 2022 wins helped their party secure footholds in key battlegrounds. There are advocates driving major court cases – or shaping the public’s reaction to them. The full project is online here.

A message from the Association of American Railroads:

Association of American RailroadsPin


Watch your back, Jeffries… McCarthy is plotting an April Fools joke against Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), it seems. The YouTube “upcoming” video tag gave it away.

Questions, concerns… That’s what we have about Sen. Tina Smith’s (D-Minn.) cinnamon roll chili dip situation.


Gisele Fetterman says ‘vicious attacks’ poured in after husband’s hospitalization, from Amy B. Wang at The Washington Post

Lobbyists Begin Chipping Away at Biden’s $80 Billion I.R.S. Overhaul, from Alan Rappeport at The New York Times

Senate’s Push for Fed Transparency Gains Support After Bank Failures, from Zach C. Cohen at Bloomberg


Jennifer Heins has been named the next chief of staff for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa.). She currently is a senior adviser and director of scheduling.

Martha Roberts is now a senior counselor to the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget. She most recently worked on the EPA and USGS portfolios for the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.


The House is out.

The Senate is out.


Quiet first Friday of recess.


THURSDAY’S WINNER: Gerard Adelman correctly answered that Martin Van Buren was the first president to be born as a U.S. citizen and that he spoke Dutch as his native language.

TODAY’S QUESTION from Gerard: Which president delivered the longest speech at his inauguration?

The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your answers to [email protected]

GET HUDDLE emailed to your phone each morning.

Follow Katherine on Twitter @ktullymcmanus

A message from the Association of American Railroads:

America’s freight railroads have a history of being safe—mainline accidents reached an all-time low in 2022. But we know there is still work to be done to reach a future with zero incidents. Immediate steps we are taking toward that goal include:

1. Installing thousands of additional accident-preventing detectors,
2. Establishing safety-first standards for stopping trains and inspecting bearings,
3. Training 20,000 first responders nationwide on accident mitigation,
4. Leading an industry-wide re-evaluation to improve tank car fire protection,
5. Proactively removing wheel sets that posed an increased risk of derailment from service,

And more. Rail is essential to keeping the U.S. economy strong, but we also recognize we must regain the trust of the communities we serve. That’s why we’re never going to stop improving, so that every part of America can continue to rely on rail to safely and efficiently deliver. Learn more.

( Information from was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

Leave a Comment

Share to...