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Trump to attend House Republican retreat in Baltimore on Thursday

Less than two months after calling Baltimore “a rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live,” President Donald Trump will visit the city Thursday to speak at a U.S. House of Representatives retreat for Republican lawmakers, according to the White House.

The 2019 House Republican Conference Member Retreat, which is scheduled for Thursday through Sunday at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Harbor East, will mark the president’s first appearance in Baltimore since delivering his scorching Twitter criticisms of the city and Democratic U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings in July.

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A spokeswoman for the retreat — sponsored by the nonprofit Congressional Institute — said that there was no publicly available agenda and that the sessions will be closed to the media.

The institute says its mission includes helping members of Congress “better serve their constituents and helping their constituents better understand the operations of the national legislature.”

Previous retreats have helped produce legislative proposals on taxes and health care.

“Since 1987, the Congressional Institute has been proud to sponsor the annual planning session for House Republicans so that lawmakers may convene outside of Washington, D.C., to discuss their legislative strategy and explore new and innovative ideas," Mark Strand, the institute’s president, said in a statement.

“Some of the issues lawmakers will discuss are the issues that are foremost in Americans’ minds, such as health care, growing the economy and national security,” the statement said.

Several protests are expected to take place outside the hotel, which is just outside Cummings’ district.

Among the protests in the works:

  • The Peoples Power Assembly is coordinating a rally at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Columbus statue at South President Street and Eastern Avenue. It said its demands include impeaching Trump “for racist hate crimes.”
  • The Baltimore Welcome Committee is planning a “Musical Labor Protest" on Friday at 5 p.m. at East Falls Avenue and Aliceanna Street. It’s asking musicians and singers to help lead songs outside the retreat. The committee says the GOP “has gutted unions and allowed employers to slash wages and benefits, all while giving tax breaks to the richest members of society.”
  • An LGBTQ+/Allies Dance Party at 7 p.m. Friday at East Falls Avenue and Aliceanna Street asks participants to "wear your rainbow best, bring flags and signs and come get your groove on at this uplifting first amendment event!”
  • An “Apocalypse is Now” protest at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Harbor East will focus on threats posed by climate change.

Trump’s remarks at the retreat’s opening dinner Thursday will be preceded by lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and bilateral meetings with Kuwaiti officials, according to the White House.

Trump has visited Baltimore sparingly, attending the Army-Navy football game at M&T Bank Stadium shortly after he won the 2016 election. A few months before that, candidate Trump spoke to the National Guard Association of the United States, which held a conference downtown. He then popped over to Dundalk in Baltimore County for lunch at a diner with local politicians and supporters.

More recently, the president considered visiting Baltimore last December to discuss urban revitalization at the invitation of the Rev. Donte Hickman, but the event was called off.

This year’s House Republican retreat was initially scheduled for late January in West Virginia, but was postponed due to the partial federal government shutdown.

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