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Trump to return to political stage with speech at North Carolina GOP convention

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Former President Donald Trump will return to the political stage with a speech at the North Carolina Republican Convention on Saturday, solidifying his continued symbolic leadership of the party despite his repeated falsehoods about the 2020 election, and allowing him to exert influence amid an ongoing social media ban.

Mr. Trump said in a written statement on Friday that it is “a great honor to be speaking at the North Carolina GOP convention” on Saturday night.

“I understand the place will be packed, all records broken!” he said.

Mr. Trump’s return to public speaking comes after a tumultuous three months for his party. Although the purpose of the convention is ostensibly to look to the Republican Party’s future, and particularly efforts to retake Congress, Mr. Trump will likely take the opportunity to air grievances about his electoral loss.

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Even though Republicans lost control of the House, Senate and White House under Mr. Trump, he continues to have a remarkable hold on the party. House Republicans ousted Congresswoman Liz Cheney from her leadership position in May because of her frequent criticism of Mr. Trump, her refusal to promote false claims about the election and her insistence that the party should not whitewash the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by a violent mob of Trump supporters. Cheney was replaced as conference chair by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a staunch Trump ally.

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A few weeks after Cheney’s unceremonious removal, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have created a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the January 6 attack. Most Republicans in Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have argued that the country should move forward from the attack.

Rioters threatened the lives of lawmakers and former Vice President Mike Pence during the assault, which resulted in the deaths of five people, and more than 140 law enforcement officials were injured. Pence acknowledged in a speech on Thursday that he would “never see eye to eye” with Mr. Trump about the insurrection.

Although the rioters explicitly sought to overturn the election results by preventing Congress and Pence from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory, using violence with the hope of achieving their goal, Mr. Trump has continued to promote the false claim that the election was rigged. Moreover, several states with Republican-controlled legislatures are considering election bills to restrict voting rights in the wake of Mr. Trump’s electoral loss.

The president, meanwhile, remains banned from Facebook and Twitter. Facebook announced Friday that it is barring Mr. Trump from its platform for at least two years, after finding that his posts on January 6 stoked violence and posed a risk to public safety. The two-year ban is considered to have started on January 7, when Mr. Trump was initially suspended from Facebook, and it will keep him off the platform through the 2022 midterm elections.

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