Donald Trump promised a 'triumphant return to the White House' in his grand comeback at CPAC on Sunday where he laid into the Supreme Court for not having the 'courage' to overturn the 'rigged election' and pounced on President Joe Biden claiming he had 'the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history.'
'Do you miss me yet?' Trump asked the roaring crowd as he took the stage in Orlando, Florida, more than one hour later than scheduled.
Trump's 90 minute speech ranged across big tech firms, which he said should be reined in, and 'cancel culture', with the former president vowing to 'stand up to political correctness and reject left-wing lunacy.'
He mentioned by name all 17 Republicans - 10 members of the House and seven senators - who had voted to impeach him, urging a purge from the ranks of those who had crossed him.
Bur he reassured the crowd in his address that he will not form a new political party because it would further divide the GOP, as he previewed another White House run in 2024.
'We're not starting new parties. We have the Republican Party,' he said.
Ex-President of the USA, Donald Trump hints he might run in 2024. "It is far from being over. We will be victorious and America will be stronger and greater than ever before." Trump said while still claiming he was robbed of victory in the concluded elections. #NBSUpdates pic.twitter.com/Hg7maxUJlV— NBS Television (@nbstv) March 1, 2021
'Wouldn't that be brilliant?' he quipped. 'Let's start a new party, let's divide our vote, so you can never win. No we're not interested in that.'
Trump's reaffirmation of his commitment to the GOP comes after rumors emerged last month that he was considering creating his own political party and breaking with Republicans – especially those who rebuked him.
The former president repeated his claims of voter fraud at several points during his remarks on Sunday, claiming the Supreme Court should be 'ashamed' for refusing to overturn the results in his favor.
'With your help we will take back the House, we will win the Senate, and then a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. And I wonder who that will be,' Trump sarcastically said toward the end of his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
'Who, who, who will that be? I wonder,' he continued in the charade, smirking toward the crowd of some of his most staunch supporters.
A White House spokesperson wasn't buying Trump's push for unity.
'The only thing that seems to be able to unite the Republican Party is their opposition to giving Americans $1,400 checks, to getting schools the money they need to reopen safely, to keeping cops, firefighters, and teachers on the job, and to speeding up vaccinations,' Michael Gwin told DailyMail.com, following Trump's comeback remarks.
'While the GOP casts about for a path forward, President Biden is going to remain laser-focused on crushing the virus, re-opening schools, and getting Americans back to work,' he continued.
TRUMP CONTINUES TO PUSH VOTER FRAUD CLAIMS
The former president used his stage time – exactly 90 minutes – to push his repeated claims of voter fraud.
'Actually as you know, they just lost the White House, but it's one of those things,' he said of Democrats, continuing on with his claim that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 presidential election.
'But who knows, who knows, I may even decide to beat them for a third time,' he said, previewing a potential 2024 run to take back the White House – and at the same time suggesting he already beat Biden in 2020.
Trump said the Supreme Court is partly to blame for the election results not being overturned in his favor.
'This election was rigged. And the Supreme Court and other courts didn't want to do anything about it,' he lamented. 'They didn't have the courage, the Supreme Court.'
'We had almost 20 states go into the Supreme Court so that we didn't have a standing problem. They rejected it, they rejected it,' Trump said of the dozens of lawsuits filed in an attempt to toss out ballots they believe were invalid.
'They should be ashamed of themselves for what they've done to our country,' Trump said of the nine Supreme Court Justices. 'They didn't have the guts or the courage to make the right decision.'
He added: 'They didn't want to talk about it.'
Notably the Supreme Court is 6-3 conservative majority and has three justices presiding who were appointed by the former president.
'We must pass comprehensive election reforms and we must do it now,' Trump asserted.
'The Democrats used the China virus as an excuse to change all of the election rules without the approval of their state legislatures, making it therefore - illegal,' he continued.
TRUMP CALLS FOR TECH COMPANIES WHO 'SILENCE' CONSERVATIVES TO BE PUNISHED
The New York-born businessman, who was forced from social media platforms in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection, for fear that he would incite further violence, told the crowd that tech giants needed to be more accountable.
He accused the heads of companies such as Twitter and Facebook of acting contrary to the First Amendment, and demanded that Congress take action to rein them in.
'All of the election integrity measures in the world will mean nothing if we don't have free speech,' Trump said.
'If Republicans can be censored for speaking the truth and calling out corruption, we will not have democracy and we will only have left-wing tyranny.'
Trump has frequently accused tech companies of censorship over his removal from both Facebook and Twitter for violating their policies.
On Sunday he returned to the theme, urging that 'big tech monopolies' be broken up and the might of Silicon Valley be checked.
'The time has come to break up big tech monopolies and restore fair competition,' Trump said, adding that section 230 - a piece of internet legislation passed into law as part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 - must be repealed.
Section 230 gives websites protection from being legally liable for content shared by users.
'If the federal government refuses to act then every state in the union where we have the votes - which is a lot of them - big tech giants like Twitter, Google, and Facebook should be punished with major sanctions whenever they silence conservative voices,' Trump said.
TRUMP LASHES OUT AT HIS GOP ENEMIES
Despite calling for unity within the party, Trump specifically called out Republican lawmakers who have rebuked him – including listing the names of those who voted for his impeachment.
'We need strong leadership, we cannot have leaders who show more passion for condemning their fellow Americans than they have ever shown for standing up to Democrats, the media and the radicals, who want to turn America into a socialist country,' Trump said.
'We want Republican leaders who are loyal to the voters who will work proudly for the vision that I laid out today,' he said.
Trump went after Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, the highest ranking Republican in the House to vote in favor of impeaching the then-president, more ferociously then the other defectors.
Cheney has faced a formal censure from the GOP in her home state of Wyoming, which is fiercely pro-Trump.
'The good news is in her state she's been censured and in her state her poll numbers have dropped faster than any human being I've ever seen,' Trump said of Cheney. 'So hopefully they'll get rid of her with the next election.'
'The RINOs we're surrounded with will destroy the Republican Party and the American worker and will destroy our country itself,' Trump said, using the negative term 'Republican in Name Only,' which refers to more moderate, establishment GOP lawmakers.
Trump also said Democrats are lucky because they know how to unite, claiming they won't break with each other even if they disagree.
The former president then went into a list of those GOP lawmakers who have gone against him at one point or another during his presidency.
'The Democrats don't have grandstanders like Mitt Romney, Little Ben Sasse, Richard Burr, Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Pat Toomey,' he said, listing the seven Republican senators who voted to impeach him.
He then named the 10 House Republicans who had also voted in favor of impeachment.
'And in the House, Tom Rice, South Carolina, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Newhouse, Anthony Gonzalez, that's another beauty.
'Fred Upton, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Peter Meijer, John Katko, David Valadao and of course, the warmonger, the person that loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney. How about that?' he said.
'Get rid of them all.
'Democrats are vicious, remember this it's true, Democrats are vicious,' the former president continued.
'They're smart and they do one thing – you've got to hand it to them – they always stick together.
'You don't have Mitt Romneys in the group [of Democrats],' he said of the Utah senator, who on occasion breaks with the party.
'I'm announcing that I will be actively working to elect strong, tough and smart Republican leaders,' he added.
Trump was longed rumored to be preparing to launch a slew of endorsements for GOP candidates – especially some who are launching primary runs against incumbent Republicans who have denounced the former president.
'It has just been stated that President Trump's endorsement is the most powerful asset in politics,' the former president said.
'My endorsement of Mitch McConnell, at his request,' Trump began and was met with boos from the crowd upon mention of the Senate leader's name, 'brought him from one point down to 20 points up and he won his race.'
'Because of my efforts campaigning, we had huge gains in the House and I helped keep many senators in their seats and they will admit it, so that it's now 50/50 instead of Republicans being down anywhere from eight to 10 seats.'
'So how the hell is it possible that we lost?' he questioned.
Trump said to an enthusiastic crowd of mixed mask and mask-less supporters on Sunday: 'I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we began together. We went through a journey like nobody else, there's never been a journey like it, there's never been a journey so successful.
'We began it together four years ago - and it is far from being over,' he added.
TRUMP PROMISES NOT TO DIVIDE REPUBLICANS
At another point, Trump promised: 'The Republican Party is united,' despite recent fractions and feuds.
'The only division is between a handful of Washington D.C. establishment political hacks, and everybody else all over the country,' he added.
As the crowd waited for Trump, American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp assured them 'everything is going according to schedule' as he arrived 69 minutes late to the party.
An infomercial about CPAC then played to keep supporters engaged, as Trump made his way to Orlando from Palm Beach.
In an effort to not further faction those on the right side of the political aisle, Trump made clear during his remarks that he will not be starting his own political party.
Instead, he called for Republicans to unite in order to win back a majority in Congress in 2022 and the White House in 2024.
'We are not starting new parties, and we will not be dividing our power and our strength. Instead, we will be united and strong like never before,' Trump will say, according to an excerpt of the speech obtained by Fox News.
However, the former president did not fully abandon his bullish attitude, making it clear Republican defectors would face primary runs against Trump-backed candidates.
He also took the opportunity on Sunday to pounce on President Joe Biden.
The former president used Biden's names almost from the start of his speech, coming out in strong force against the man who bested him for the White House and most of his policies since taking office
'Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,' Trump said of his successor.
'Your families still cannot go out and eat at local restaurants, but Joe Biden is bringing in thousands upon thousands of refugees from all over the world, people that nobody knows anything about. We don't have crime records, we don't have health records,' Trump said, attacking Biden's coronavirus response and lax immigration policies.
'Joe Biden and the Democrats are even pushing policies that would destroy women's sports,' he said, likely referencing the Equality Act that seeks to further transgender rights.
Biden is in Wilmington, Delaware this weekend and attended church Sunday morning with his grandchildren Natalie and Hunter.
TRUMP ATTACKS 'CANCEL CULTURE'
During his keynote address, Trump sent the message: I am the future of the GOP.
He said that he wouldn't let the radical left 'cancel' him.
'For the next four years the brave Republicans in this room will be at the heart of the effort to oppose the radical Democrats, the fake news media and their toxic cancel culture,' he said.
'Something new to our ears, cancel culture,' he joked.
'And I want you to know that I'm going to continue to fight right by your side, we will do what we've done right from the beginning, which is win.
'We embrace free thought , we stand up to political correctness and we reject left-wing lunacy and in particular – we reject cancel culture,' Trump said.
MASK-LESS CPAC: TRUMP RAILS AGAINST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
Throughout the four-day event, the Hyatt Regency in Orlando – where the convention was held this year – had issues with attendees refusing to comply with wearing masks.
At one point, the ACU had to warn ticket-holders that repeat offenders could be asked to leave the premises.
During Trump's speech, which was not observing social distancing standards, several audience members could be seen wearing their face coverings below their noses, on their chins or just not wearing one at all.
Trump lamented of Biden's handling of coronavirus during his remarks, demanding Republicans not allow him to take credit for the vaccine and recovery plan.
'Never let them take the credit, because they don't deserve the credit,' Trump said, adding : 'Joe Biden is only implementing the plan that we had in place.'
Biden's White House has said there was no plan in place when they inherited the COVID-19 pandemic, contrary to the claims of top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, who has now served on the coronavirus advisory boards of both Trump and Biden's administrations.
Trump calls his shot - makes BOLD predictions for 2022, 2024 electionshttps://t.co/vQm2IyDaa1— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) February 28, 2021
Top Trump aide Corey Lewandowski told Fox News on Sunday that it was always 'fake news' that the former president was ever considering creating his own party apart from Republicans.
'Why would you start a third party when you're the head of the Republican Party?' Lewandowski posed. 'There's no question about it: Donald Trump is the head of the Republican Party.'
'This notion that he's going to start a third party, it's total fake news, okay?' he continued. 'He's never wanted to do that.'
'He has been the head of the Republican Party. He's the most important endorsement for any Republican running for office in a primary or a general election, and that's going to continue to be the case.'
Although several potential 2024 Republican presidential contenders made appearances at CPAC, most of them made it clear they support Trump and would put support behind him.
Those potential contenders who spoke at CPAC include Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Rick Scott of Florida, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
'Donald J. Trump ain't going anywhere,' Cruz said while speaking at the massive gathering.
Lewandowski said Sunday that Trump's 'first mission' is to win back Congress in 2022 – a fact he will outline in his speech Sunday afternoon.
'He's going to lay out how we're going to take back the House and the Senate in 2022, because that's the first mission,' he told Fox.
In calling for the Party to come together, Trump will also detail a 'pathway' for taking back the majority in Congress in 2022, including pushing his repeated claims of voter fraud and proposing ways to stop it.
Stripped of his Twitter account, Trump's only means of communication with the public have been through occasional statements released from the 'Office of the 45th President', which he formed after leaving Washington.
He also broke his media silence earlier this month when he joined Fox News by phone for a tribute to conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh, who died of cancer.
The former president is still stewing over McCarthy's decision to keep Representative Liz Cheney in two House GOP roles after she voted to impeach, three sources told Politico.
Last month, McCarthy flew to Mar-a-Lago in a bid to patch things up after saying that Trump 'bears responsibility' for the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The California Republican's effort to appease Trump continued this week, when McCarthy took a swipe at Cheney during an appearance on Fox News, suggesting that she supports cancel culture.
The two Republican representatives got into an awkward shuffle at a press conference Wednesday, when a reporter asked Cheney if Trump should be speaking at CPAC.
'I don't believe that he should be playing a role in the future of the party or the country,' she replied, as McCarthy stood by.
'On that high note, thank you all very much,' McCarthy added, swiftly concluding the press conference
At a CPAC panel on Saturday, McCarthy overflowed with praise for Trump, crediting the former president for significant GOP gains in the House in November elections.
'You know why we won that? President Trump worked on all these races,' McCarthy said. 'Even when President Trump was sick with COVID, he called me one night from the hospital and said 'Kevin we've got to keep doing this.''
'He couldn't do the rallies, so he would do these rallies over the phone for each district, and he would have the candidate on and he would talk, and it turned out the votes.'
The minority leader's top priority is returning a GOP majority to the House in the midterm elections, which would seize the gavel from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Lewandowski also put support behind McCarthy on Sunday, claiming he should be the leader of the House, not Pelosi.
'We believe that Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy have a better opportunity to lead our country than Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi respectively,' Lewandowksi told Fox of the whole Republican Party as the last day of CPAC commenced. 'Now, we may have a different way to get there. We may have different candidates.'
'We want the Republicans to be in the majority, and the president is going to have a big say in how that happens for 2022,' he said.
'Yeah we may not agree on all the candidates, we are going to go after some candidates that made some bad votes – Liz Cheney is on that list, Alex Gonzalez is on that list.'
Trump calls Melania the 'future first lady' in surest sign he is NOT done with political office
Trump on Sunday gave the strongest indicator yet that he aims to retake the presidency - with Melania by his side.
Despite rumors that the Slovenian-born model was immensely relieved that her White House days were over, Trump insisted she would be back.
There has even been speculation that the couple, who never demonstrated an easy affection, could divorce after leaving the White House.
In June a book, The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump, claimed that Melania stayed at Trump Tower in New York for months after her husband's inauguration as leverage to force a better prenuptial agreement. At the time, she claimed she was staying in the city because she didn't want to interrupt their son Barron Trump's school year. Many have wondered whether the prenup included a clause about how long they must remain together, once Trump left the White House.
But on Sunday, Trump insisted that his wife would be with him in 2024.
The former president told CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, that his wife would be 'the future first lady'.
Melania, 50, was not spotted at the Orlando gathering, despite it being held only 200 miles from her Mar-a-Lago home.
The last time she was seen in public was on January 20, when they landed in Florida from Washington.
While Trump waved and smiled at the waiting press when he exited the plane, his wife appeared to grimace as she walked out of shot while being filmed for the final time as the first lady.
The footage of her walking away from her husband on the tarmac in Florida has been viewed more than four million times in the day since it was posted online.
Since then, she has been invisible - although she reportedly intends to carry on working on her 'Be Best' campaign against social media bullying.
'She goes to the spa, has lunch, goes to the spa (again), and has dinner with Donald on the patio,' someone familiar with her schedule told CNN.
Melania left the White House with her approval ratings at an all-time low.
Only 42 per cent of respondents to a January 17, conducted by SSRS for CNN, approved of her behavior.
Michelle Obama departed the White House with a 69 per cent favorable rating, which was the same number as when she entered, eight years prior.
Laura Bush's parting ranking was also largely positive, despite her husband's unpopularity at the time. In 2009, a CNN/ORC poll put Bush at a 67 per cent favorable rating, while George W. Bush was only viewed positively by 35 per cent.
Melania Trump had long been considered a reluctant first lady, who resented the spotlight and much preferred a quiet life.
On Sunday her husband insisted, however, that she would be back.
'Get rid of them all!': Trump urges GOP to purge 17 members who voted to impeach him including Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney
Trump used his CPAC speech to demand a purge of his political rivals, singling out Mitt Romney and 'warmonger' Liz Cheney, who both voted to impeach him.
The former president addressed the conservative gathering in Orlando on Sunday afternoon, in his first speech since stepping down on January 20.
Trump took to the stage to rapturous applause, using his podium to attack Joe Biden and tease his supporters with numerous hints of a 2024 run.
He also sought revenge on the 17 Republicans - seven senators and 10 members of the House - who voted to impeach him.
All 17 were mentioned by Trump, with the 74-year-old reserving particular venom for Liz Cheney, who said earlier this week that Trump should not be in a position to lead the party.
'Instead of attacking me and more importantly the voters of our movement, top establishment Republicans in Washington should be spending their energy in opposing Biden, Pelosi, Schumer and the Democrats,' Trump said.
'If Republicans do not stick together, the RINOs [Republicans In Name Only] that we're surrounded with will destroy the Republican Party.
'And the warmonger, the person who loves seeing our troops fighting, Liz Cheney.'
Trump said the 'good news' was that she has been censured in her state of Wyoming, and her approval rating was falling.
'Her poll numbers have dropped faster than any human being I've ever seen,' he said.
'Hopefully they'll get rid of her with the next election. Get rid of 'em all.'
He later took aim at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who criticized Trump over his actions around the riot and accused Trump of 'a disgraceful dereliction of duty'.
'Now more than ever is the time for tough, strong and energetic Republican leaders who have spines of steel,' Trump said.
'We cannot have leaders who show more passion for condemning their fellow Americans than they have ever shown for standing up to Democrats, the media and the radicals who want to turn America into a socialist country.'
On the eve of his speech, Trump announced his endorsement of Max Miller, a former White House aide who is challenging one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach.
Anthony Gonzalez will face Miller in the 2022 vote, but said he did not regret voting against Trump.
'You have to love your country and you have to adhere to your oath more strongly than you do your job, and I don't know what political fate will play out,' Gonzalez said. 'If my fate is ultimately that I don't get to come back, I will do that at peace.'
Miller has made clear that he plans to turn Gonzalez's impeachment vote into a centerpiece of his campaign, writing on Twitter that the congressman 'betrayed' constituents with his vote.
Trump has told advisers that he's intent on unseating the Republicans who backed his impeachment and others in the party he views as disloyal, including the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, whom he has accused of not doing enough to intervene in the state's 2020 vote count.
Yet Trump insisted, despite the obvious divides, that there was no civil war within his party.
'The Republican Party is united,' he said.
'The only division is between a handful of Washington DC establishment political hacks, and everybody else all over the country.'
Trump accuses Biden of being in the pocket of Beijing due to his 'very close, personal relationship with China': Tells CPAC that Joe's had 'most disastrous first month of any president'
Addressing the conservative faithful at CPAC - the Conservative Political Action Conference - Trump said that Biden had had 'the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history.'
He strongly criticized the president's decision to rejoin the World Health Organization, describing the WHO as 'puppets for China', and insisting Biden was unable to rein the Chinese in.
Trump complained about companies relocating to China, describing China as a country that has 'ripped us off for years' and 'should not be rewarded.'
He complained about Biden being too lenient on China, saying: 'That's what the Biden administration is doing. But, of course, as you know, they have a very close, personal relationship with China, so I don't expect much to happen.'
Trump has frequently accused Biden of being in some way compromised by China.
His son, Hunter Biden, attempted to do business with Beijing - his father insisted he was unaware of Hunter's efforts.
Trump has rejected Joe Biden's explanation, however, and insisted the president was being too lenient - despite Biden continuing many of Trump's trade policies with Beijing, and speaking out against persecution of the Uighurs.
Trump told the meeting it was essential to ensure that America had the upper hand.
'We believe in standing up to China, shutting down outsourcing, bringing back our factories and supply chains, and ensuring that America, not China, dominates the future of the world,' he said.
'We took in hundreds of millions of dollars from China during my administration, hundreds.
'It was a one-way street. We took in hundreds of millions, and during negotiations they would say, look, we don't want any more of these tariffs. Those tariffs, we took in so much money. And what happened is they became competitive.'
Trump also reiterated his blame of Beijing for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Trump accused China of covering up the virus' spread, adding: 'what happened with that was just disgraceful.'
Returning to his attack on Biden, Trump described the Democrat administration as 'anti-jobs, anti-family, anti-borders, anti-energy, anti-women, anti-science.'
He added: 'In just one short month, we have gone from America first to America last.'
Trump's remarks on Biden will likely raise eyebrows, given his own recent comments about his own party's leader being compromised - and even his own Cabinet.
On February 16 Trump launched an extraordinary attack on Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, whose wife, Elaine Chao, Trump's transport secretary, was born in Taiwan.
Her family has a vast shipping business in China, and significant ties to official China, including board positions in state companies and a close relationship between Chao's father and former Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin.
'McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family's substantial Chinese business holdings,' said Trump.
Trump tells CPAC the Equality Act - which critics fear will allow transgender females to compete in women's sport - is 'not good for women, it's not good for women's sports'
Trump on Sunday weighed in on the debate about the Equality Act, which was passed by the House on Thursday, yet faces an uphill battle to win Senate approval and become law.
Supporters of the bill insist it is designed to enshrine LGBTQ protections in the nation's labor and civil rights laws.
It amends existing civil rights law to explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identification as protected characteristics, meaning that a person's sexuality or gender identity cannot be used against them for employment, housing, loan applications, education, public accommodations and other areas.
Critics argue that, by removing the question of a person's biological sex at birth, they are allowing transgender men to compete in women's sport.
The bill does not mention sport, and yet the issue has been seized on by Republicans, and was picked up by Trump at CPAC.
The bill was passed by the House 224-206 on Thursday and now moves to the Senate
'Young girls and women are incensed that they are now being forced to compete against those who are biological males,' Trump said.
'It's not good for women, it's not good for women's sports, which worked so long and so hard to get where they are.'
On Tuesday Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at Independent Women's Forum, claimed that the effects of removing sex from criteria had already been felt.
'In Connecticut, two biologically male athletes won a combined 15 girls state championship races, allegedly taking opportunities for further competition and scholarships from female runners in June 2019,' she wrote in The Wall Street Journal .
Trump on Sunday built on Stepman's theme, stating: 'The records that stood for years, even decades, are now being smashed with ease.
'If this is not changed women's sports as we know it will die.'
The House passed the Equality Act in the last Congress with unanimous Democratic support and the backing of eight Republicans, but Trump's White House opposed the measure and it was not considered in the Senate, where 60 votes will be needed to overcome procedural hurdles.
Democrats are trying to revive it now that they have control of Congress and the White House, but passage still appears unlikely in the evenly divided Senate.
Trump insisted on Sunday that they had been right to block it.
'You know, for years the weightlifting, every ounce is like a big deal for many years,' Trump said. 'All of a sudden somebody comes along and beats it by 100 pounds.'
Trump declared: 'We must protect the integrity of women's sports. So important.'
Many Republicans in the House agreed, with Lauren Boebert, representative for Colorado, tweeting: 'Why are we changing the culture of the entire country around and wrecking sports for 0.42% of the population?'
But the ACLU said that those opposing the Equality Act were guilty of 'transphobia'.
Tennis star Martina Navratilova and four-time Olympics gold medalist runner Sanya Richards-Ross argued in a 2019 op-ed that the bill, which passed 236-173 that year, would ensure 'there will always be significant numbers of boys and men who would beat the best girls and women in head-to-head competition.'
They wrote: 'We support transgender women and girls and their right to equality, and we recognize their personal struggle. We don't worry that boys and men will feign transgender identity to gain an advantage.
'But we do hope that lawmakers won't make the unnecessary and ironic mistake of sacrificing the enormously valuable social good that is female sports in their effort to secure the rights of transgender women and girls.'
Biden made clear his support for the Equality Act in the lead-up to last year's election, saying it would be one of his first priorities.
Mary Gay Scanlon, a Democrat representative for Pennsylvania, said the Equality Act is needed to end 'the patchwork of state laws' around gay rights and create 'uniform nationwide protection.'
'It's been personal since my baby sister came out to me almost 40 years ago,' Scanlon said.
'For many people all across this country and across this House, that is when the fight hits home.'
The debate among lawmakers on Capitol Hill also become personal.
Marie Newman, a Democrat representative for Illinois, whose daughter is transgender, tweeted a video of herself placing a transgender flag outside her office.
Her office is across the hall from Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, an avowedly Trumpian firebrand.
'Our neighbor, @RepMTG, tried to block the Equality Act because she believes prohibiting discrimination against trans Americans is 'disgusting, immoral, and evil.' Thought we'd put up our Transgender flag so she can look at it every time she opens her door.,' Newman tweeted.
Greene responded with a video of her own in which she puts up a sign that reads: 'There are Two genders: MALE and FEMALE. 'Trust The Science!'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed to the exchange to advocate for the bill Thursday.
'It breaks my heart that it is necessary, but the fact is, and in fact we had a sad event here even this morning, demonstrating the need for us to have respect,' Pelosi said, at one point pausing and taking a deep sigh.
'Not even just respect, but take pride, take pride in our LGBT community.'
Gay and lesbian members of Congress spoke about how meaningful the bill is for them.
'Look, we're not asking for anything that any other American doesn't already enjoy,' said Chris Pappas, a Democrat representative for New Hampshire.
'We just want to be treated the same. We just want politicians in Washington to catch up with the times and the Constitution.'
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.