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House Republicans plan yearly retreat in Baltimore despite Trump’s attacks

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) at a hearing in June. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

President Trump on Saturday called Baltimore a “very dangerous & filthy place” and suggested that Democratic politicians, including Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, had made the city all but uninhabitable.

Leaders of Trump’s party appear to disagree: House Republicans have scheduled their yearly policy retreat for a downtown Baltimore hotel in September, according to two senior Republicans familiar with the plans.

That could present an uncomfortable situation for Trump, as sitting presidents customarily speak each year at their party’s House retreat.

The Republicans spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe arrangements that have yet to be made public. The website for the hotel, the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, and multiple third-party hotel booking sites show the hotel as sold out for the days of the retreat, Sept. 12 to 14, while showing availability at other nearby hotels.

During past congressional retreats, Capitol Police have cordoned off the premises to all but lawmakers and authorized attendees, meaning no unrelated guests are permitted.

The House Republican Conference handles the retreat planning in conjunction with the nonprofit Congressional Institute. Jeremy Adler, a spokesman for the conference chairwoman, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), did not respond to a request for comment Monday. Congressional Institute President Mark Strand did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

Trump over the weekend issued Twitter attacks on Baltimore and Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

The panel has issued multiple subpoenas targeting the Trump administration. The committee voted last week to authorize subpoenas for White House work communications sent via personal email and cellphone, amid questions about whether the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in law, Jared Kushner, violated federal record-keeping laws.

House panel votes to authorize subpoenas for all White House work communications sent via personal email, cellphone

Cummings has also sought testimony from White House counselor Kellyanne Conway after a government watchdog found that she violated a law that forbids federal government employees from engaging in certain campaign activities.

“If racist Elijah Cummings would focus more of his energy on helping the good people of his district, and Baltimore itself, perhaps progress could be made in fixing the mess that he has helped to create over many years of incompetent leadership,” Trump said in one Sunday tweet. “His radical ‘oversight’ is a joke!”

The Marriott Waterfront is not in Cummings’s district, though just barely — it is four blocks inside the edge of Democrat John Sarbanes’s circuitous 3rd District in Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood.

The GOP retreat was originally scheduled for the remote Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., in late January, but Republican leaders postponed it because of the then-pending government shutdown. Democrats also postponed their retreat, rescheduling it for May at a suburban Virginia resort.

Baltimore has been a frequent destination for both parties’ legislative retreats. Republicans last held their retreat in the same Marriott in 2016; Democrats huddled at a nearby Hyatt Regency last year.

Lawmakers and congressional staffers are fond of Baltimore as a retreat location because of its proximity to Washington, cutting down on travel time to and from the Capitol, as well as the wealth of off-premises tourism options for family members who sometimes join them.

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