At least 9 GOP lawmakers are at Trump trial, which could be a problem for Republicans

At least nine Republican lawmakers traveled to New York to appear in court alongside former President Trump on Thursday, the latest in a string of GOP lawmakers to attend the hush money trial.

The move could jeopardize GOP attendance at a key vote later in the day and also comes after the House Oversight and Accountability Committee bumped a scheduled hearing to facilitate their attendance at court.

Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Mike Waltz (Fla.) and Eli Crane (Ariz.) were spotted in the courtroom, while Reps. Andy Ogles (Tenn.) Anna Paulina Luna (Fla.), Ralph Norman (S.C.) and House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (Va.) were also spotted at the Manhattan courthouse.

Boebert and Gaetz were spotted sitting in the first row of the gallery, next to Eric Trump and the former president’s Secret Service agents. Good was also seen seated in the first row, on the other side of Trump’s security detail.

From left, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., and Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., look on as former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court in New York, on Thursday, May 16, 2024. (Mike Segar/Pool Photo via AP)

Five additional lawmakers are seated in the second row, which is also reserved for Trump’s guests.

But there was not enough space to seat the entire entourage, leading Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn to ask some of the lawmakers to sit down in the back of the room.

Many of the lawmakers were chatty after entering the courtroom, particularly during the multiple sidebars that kicked off Thursday’s proceedings.

And as the jurors entered the room, Boebert slowly turned her body to continue facing them as they walked across the room to the jury box.

While a large group, the lawmakers are just the latest in a parade of GOP figures who have attended the trial, including Speaker Mike Johnson (La.).

The trip to New York comes on what was scheduled to be a busy day in particular for the House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. Both had scheduled morning hearings for a top GOP priority: holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress.

U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., speaks during a news conference at near Manhattan Criminal Court during the trial of former President Donald Trump, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in New York. Trump is accused of falsifying business records to cover up a sex scandal during the 2016 presidential campaign. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

A source confirmed to The Hill on Wednesday that the last-minute shift in the Oversight schedule was to allow the lawmakers to make the trip to New York.

Trekking to Trump’s trial means Gaetz and Biggs will miss the Judiciary hearing on the matter, while Oversight members such as Boebert and Luna may be back for the hearing that has since been moved to 8 p.m. EDT.

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“Due to member schedule conflicts, the markup is now starting at a different time to accommodate members’ schedules,” a spokesperson for the House Oversight Committee told The Hill on Wednesday.

Any late return could also complicate other matters for House Republicans. The chamber is voting at 4 p.m. on a bill to reverse Biden’s hold on certain transfers of arms to Israel. The White House has said Biden would veto the bill.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., second from left, and Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., third from left, watch proceedings in Donald Trump’s, far right, hush money trial at Manhattan criminal court, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

A number of Democrats had signaled some support for the measure, but Democratic leaders are now whipping against it. As a result, heavy absences by Republicans could make it difficult for GOP leaders to get it across the finish line.

Other GOP lawmakers — including Reps. Byron Donalds (Fla.), Nicole Malliotakis (N.Y.) and Cory Mills (Fla.) and Sens. JD Vance (Ohio) and Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) — made the trip to the Manhattan courthouse this week, in addition to Republicans who have been floated as potential Trump running mates, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Vivek Ramaswamy.

Updated at 10:42 a.m. EDT

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