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Trump meets Senate GOP, sees a 'new beginning' for presidency

President Donald Trump speaks to the media after

President Donald Trump speaks to the media after he arrived at a Senate Republican weekly policy luncheon at the Capitol Tuesday in Washington. Credit: Getty Images / Alex Wong

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump met with Senate Republicans on Tuesday, telling lawmakers the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller's two-year investigation marked a "new beginning" for his presidency.

For Trump that new beginning includes a renewed push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, moving forward with his plans to redirect military funding to pay for his long-promised southern border wall, and opposing the Democratic-led Green New Deal proposal, according to White House officials and lawmakers who attended Tuesday's gathering on Capitol Hill.

Trump's visit to Congress was his first since Attorney General William Barr issued the summary of the final Mueller report that found that Trump and his campaign did not coordinate with Russia during his 2016 campaign. The report also resulted in no charges against the president for alleged obstruction of justice.

Speaking to reporters before attending the Senate GOP's weekly luncheon, Trump hailed the Mueller report as "great … could not have been better," even as the Justice Department said Tuesday it had yet to release the full report to the White House and lawmakers.

A department official told The Associated Press it would take Barr "weeks, not months" to make a version of the classified report available to the public.

Trump told reporters he does not believe House Democrats, who have launched a series of separate probes into his business and political dealings, would pursue impeachment proceedings against him following the release of the Mueller report.

“I don’t think they’re talking about impeachment,” Trump said. “We have the greatest economy we’ve ever had. Our country’s in incredible shape.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the past few weeks has tamped down talk that Democrats will pursue impeachment, saying it's too divisive.

Before entering his closed-door session with Republicans, Trump defended his administration’s latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“The Republican Party will soon be known as the party of health care. You watch,” Trump told reporters when asked about the Justice Department siding with a lower court decision that ruled the Obama-era health care program unconstitutional.

Several senators speaking to reporters after the luncheon said Trump told them he viewed the end of the Mueller probe as a "new beginning" and urged them to revive their past failed efforts to undo the Affordable Care Act. Democrats, who are now in control of the House, have vowed to fight against a repeal.

“I was a little surprised he came out of the chute in health care,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) “He wants us to try again.”

Just as Trump was ending his hourlong lunch, he was handed another victory, after House Democrats failed to pass a measure that would have overturned Trump's veto of a bipartisan congressional resolution aimed at blocking the president from using a national emergency declaration to help fund his long-promised border wall.

“He’s always high energy. He had a little extra today," said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Trump, "addressed his complete and total vindication in the Mueller investigation," at the gathering. Gidley said other topics of discussion included disaster relief funding, the economy and the Green New Deal, a proposal aimed at addressing climate change, that failed to pass a Senate test vote held Tuesday.

With Tom Brune and The Associated Press

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