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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty Contributor

In the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections — buoyed by Republican control of both chambers — President Trump viewed campaigning for the House as a lower-tier priority and instead poured his energy into rallying for the Senate.

But after the GOP reckoning in 2018, and experiencing firsthand how damaging a Democratic-led House has been to him, Trump is now personally invested in helping Republicans regain the majority in November, several people familiar with his thinking tell Axios.

Why it matters: If Trump wins re-election and Republicans are able to hold the Senate and take back the House, Trump will essentially have free rein to do whatever he wants in his second term.

  • Winning back the House majority is also the best insurance policy against additional attempts to impeach him.

What we're hearing: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Axios that Trump is "going to travel for us. If you look at where we’re playing, he'll be going. He's already made that commitment to me."

  • Trump has indicated to aides that he is committed to winning back the House this year, a senior administration official tells Axios — largely because McCarthy has told him it's possible.
  • A second administration official said Trump wants revenge on Democrats for putting him through "months of hell" with impeachment and a flurry of investigations.

The state of play: Republicans see the 30 Democratic seats in districts Trump won in 2016 as the most winnable.

  • "Trump has the ability to easily take a lot of these seats offline," Chris Pack, communications director for the National Republican Campaign Committee, tells Axios. He highlighted these four in particular: Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.), Anthony Brindisi (N.Y.), Kendra Horn (Okla.), and Joe Cunningham (S.C.).

But, but, but: Even prominent Republicans privately concede that their chances of actually regaining the majority are slim. Also, Trump has an aversion to small arenas and likes to leave the retail politics to Vice President Mike Pence and other surrogates, like Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr.

  • The view among most GOP strategists who spoke to Axios is that the GOP could pick up around 10 congressional seats. Still, winnowing the gap between the parties (Democrats currently have 35 more seats than Republicans) could make a difference.

What they're saying: "He and I talk twice a day. We meet often about these races. He is committed," McCarthy said. "He'll be in these competitive districts and more."

  • Trump has also committed to providing more resources to House candidates this cycle, McCarthy said: "Going into districts, getting turnout, showing support, raising capital. Going to our dinners."
  • Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign, told Axios the campaign is hopeful that increased turnout among "disengaged voters" will help with House races.

"Nationwide there were 8.8 million people who voted in 2016 and did not vote in 2018. We can say with full confidence that we know who they are, and we will be going after them hard," Murtaugh said.

The backstory: Given Trump's resistance to playing smaller arenas, his advisers are thinking of other ways for Trump to change the playing field.

  • A GOP strategist who works on House races told Axios that one of the biggest problems Republicans face is that there's a roughly $16.5 million discrepancy in fundraising between vulnerable Democrat incumbents and their GOP challengers.
  • Trump could "have a huge impact in closing the gap in a measurable way, and he can say he was the one that did it," the strategist said.

Go deeper

Momentum builds to ban lawmakers from trading stocks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Some progressive Democrats and MAGA Republicans are uniting on a proposal to ban sitting lawmakers from trading individual stocks, although it's unlikely that leadership will bring the bill up for a vote.

Why it matters: Members of Congress have great power to move stock prices, and great financial incentives to do so.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: The Weather Prediction Center said in a storm summary Monday that winter storm warnings are still in effect for portions of the Central Appalachians, Ohio Valley, interior Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast, while portions of the Central Appalachians and coastal New England are under high wind warnings.

Colleyville Rabbi credits survival to active-shooter training

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the people taken hostage in a synagogue outside Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday, said in an interview with CBS on Monday that he initially took in the man because he thought he needed shelter.

The big picture: Cytron-Walker said he spoke to the hostage taker, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, for several minutes and made him tea before Akram took the rabbi and three other people hostage for around 11 hours during Shabbat services in Colleyville.