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McCarthy Seeks Thaw With Trump as G.O.P. Rallies Behind Former President

Two weeks after Representative Kevin McCarthy, the top House Republican, enraged Donald J. Trump by saying that he considered the former president responsible for the violent mob attack at the Capitol, the two men met on Thursday for what aides described as a “good and cordial” meeting, and sought to present a united front.

The meeting at Mr. Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Fla., came two weeks after Mr. McCarthy, in a speech on the House floor, said that the former president “bears responsibility” for the events of Jan. 6, when a throng of his supporters stormed the Capitol after a rally in which Mr. Trump urged them to “fight like hell” against his election defeat.

It was the latest evidence that top Republicans, many of whom harshly criticized Mr. Trump after the assault, have quickly swung back into line behind him and are courting his support as he faces a second impeachment trial.

While Mr. McCarthy, Republican of California, voted against the impeachment article, Mr. Trump was infuriated by the speech that he delivered just before doing so, advisers said.

Aides to both men have been trying to broker a thaw between the two ever since, even as Mr. Trump has targeted other Republicans who criticized him more harshly for his role in the Capitol breach and voted in favor of impeaching him. They included Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican, who joined nine others in the party who voted in support of impeaching Mr. Trump on a charge of “incitement of insurrection.”

Mr. Trump’s advisers have been seeking to highlight his remaining popularity with Republican voters as the Senate trial is set to begin in less than two weeks. All but five Republicans voted on Tuesday to toss out the impeachment case against him as unconstitutional, reflecting how reluctant members of his party are to abandon Mr. Trump even after he has left office.

On Thursday, aides released a photograph of Mr. McCarthy and Mr. Trump posing together in one of the ornate rooms at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago club, and issued a statement calling the meeting a “very good and cordial one.” The statement bore the hallmarks of Mr. Trump’s bombastic and often false assertions about himself, incorrectly claiming that his “popularity has never been stronger than it is today.”

“His endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time,” the statement, issued by Mr. Trump’s Save America political action committee, added, saying that Mr. Trump had agreed to work with Mr. McCarthy to try to take back the House majority in 2022.

Mr. McCarthy’s own statement was noticeably less focused on Mr. Trump personally and more on the broader effort to win House Republican seats.

“Today, President Trump committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022,” Mr. McCarthy said, adding, “A united conservative movement will strengthen the bonds of our citizens and uphold the freedoms our country was founded on.”

Their meeting took place shortly before an ally of Mr. Trump, Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, made an appearance in Wyoming to attack Ms. Cheney for her vote in favor of impeaching Mr. Trump. Mr. McCarthy was already in Florida for a fund-raising trip, and the meeting was added to his schedule, officials said.

Mr. McCarthy, people close to him said, has been under attack from nearly every side, as members of his caucus who are allied with Mr. Trump have pushed to fight harder to defend him. After the speech that angered Mr. Trump, Mr. McCarthy tempered his criticism, saying he did not believe that the former president “provoked” the Capitol attack, and that while Mr. Trump bore “some responsibility,” so did “everybody across this country.”

Mr. McCarthy has made no secret of his desire to be the speaker, which could happen if Republicans reclaimed the House.

And his party is now in the unstable position of having a de facto leader in Mr. Trump, whose approval rating among all Americans is low, but who remains popular with a majority of its voters.

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