The event raised $30 million for Republican House candidates, a record for the committee’s March dinner
Hours after Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court declared during Senate confirmation hearings that he was “disheartened” about Trump’s unrestrained attacks on the judicial branch, the president was at it again, calling out the federal judges who have halted his second executive order banning travel from certain predominantly Muslim nations.
“Somebody said I should not criticize judges. OK. I’ll criticize judges,” Trump said on Tuesday night at a fundraising dinner for the National Republican Congressional Committee — reiterating his pique at a federal court judge in Hawaii who last week placed a stay on his second travel order.
Trump was in a loose mood after a day of wrangling votes for the House Republican leadership’s measure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He predicted victory in a vote on a revamped bill, scheduled for Thursday, that legislators say is still too close to call.
“The American people gave us clear instructions. It’s time to get busy, get to work, and get the job done,” Trump told the audience at the National Building Museum.
Trump said his “legislative effort begins with Thursday’s crucial vote” on the health care bill. He added that he “had no choice” but to tackle the health bill first, amid criticism from some Republicans that he should have opened by pushing through a trillion-dollar infrastructure package that was likely to garner at least some Democratic support.
“We had to do health care first,” Trump said. He spoke after House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who sold him on the strategy, and exhorted the crowd to support the president’s agenda.
Ryan blasted the health care policy that was one of President Barack Obama’s domestic legacy issues as an “arrogant, paternalistic, condescending law.” He urged his fellow House Republicans — some of whom still oppose the measure — to “go out and deliver on our promise.”
The event raised $30 million for Republican House candidates, a record for the committee’s March dinner, according to party officials.
One of the attendees was former Vice President Dick Cheney, who quickly attracted Trump’s crowd-scanning eye. The president has had harsh words for former President George W. Bush’s interventionist foreign policy, but he warmly praised Cheney, who is close to current Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, “for giving me a very early endorsement.”
It was not that early. Cheney endorsed Trump in early May of 2016, after the president effectively clinched the Republican nomination — but before many party leaders, including Ryan, were willing to lend the developer and reality TV star their support.
The building museum — site of Hillary Clinton’s 2009 “glass ceiling speech” — is one of Washington’s most imposing 19th-century structures, famous for its 116-foot-tall columns. But it was not quite up to the first developer-president’s aesthetic standards.
“I would have gotten ridden of these columns, actually,” Trump said, to laughter.