WASHINGTON Donald Trump claimed victory in Mar-a-Lago, surrounded by friends and family. Her lawyers celebrated with hugs and smiles. One joked, let’s go to Disney World!
Now acquitted in his second Senate impeachment trial, Trump is preparing for the next phase of his post-presidential life. Feeling emboldened by the result of the trials, he is expected to come out of self-imposed hibernation at his club in Palm Beach, Fla., And is looking for ways to reassert his power.
But after being kicked out of Twitter, the former president lacks the social media mouthpiece that fueled his political rise. And he faces a deeply divided Republican Party over the legacy of his discordant final days in power, culminating in the storming of Capitol Hill on Jan.6. Scorching video footage of the day was shown on loop during his impeachment trial, which ended on Saturday.
Trump remains popular among the GOP base, but many Republicans in Washington have grown cold. Never before have so many members of a party of GOP presidents seven senators, in his case, voted for his impeachment in a Senate trial.
Some could go to work to counter Trump’s efforts to support extreme candidates in Congressional primaries for years to come.
Undeterred, friends and allies expect Trump to resume friendly talks with the media after weeks of silence. He has met with political aides to discuss efforts to help Republicans attempt to take control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. He remains determined to take revenge on Republicans who supported his impeachment or who resisted his efforts to overturn the November election results won by Democrat Joe Biden.
I imagine you’ll probably hear a lot more from him in the next few days, said Senior Advisor Jason Miller.
In a statement after the vote, Trump offered few clues but was defiant in telling supporters their movement was only just beginning.
In the months to come, I have a lot to share with you and look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people, he said.
Senator Lindsey Graham, who spoke to Trump on Saturday night, admitted that Trump was angry with some people, but also ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party and excited for 2022.
In their conversations, Graham emphasized to Trump, who threatened to create his own party to punish disloyal Republicans, that the GOP needed him to win.
I said, Mr. President, that this MAGA movement must continue. We have to unite the party. Trump-plus is way back in 2022, Graham, RS.C., told Fox News on Sunday.
My goal is to win in 2022 to stop the most radical agenda I’ve seen coming out of Joe Biden’s Democratic presidency. We can’t do this without Donald Trump, so he’s ready to take to the track and I’m ready to work with him, Graham said.
Graham said Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted for acquittal but then delivered a searing Trump denunciation, obviously had a charge on a chest. Graham later said in the interview: If you want to get something off your chest, okay, but I want to win.
At his Palm Beach club on Saturday night, Trump was in a cheerful mood as he enjoyed dinner on a crowded patio. After a few weeks of relaxation, one member described a party atmosphere that had not been felt since before the elections.
Yet Trump is not yet clear. No longer protected by a Justice Ministry notice against prosecution of sitting presidents, he now faces multiple ongoing criminal investigations.
In Georgia, the Fulton County District Attorney has opened a criminal investigation into attempts to influence the election, including Trump’s appeal to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger demanding that the official find enough votes to overturn Bidens’ victory .
In New York City, Attorney General Letitia James is investigating whether Trump and his company inappropriately inflated the value of its assets in annual financial statements in order to secure loans and gain tax benefits. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is continuing his own investigation, which includes grand jury testimony.
He hasn’t done anything yet, McConnell, R-Ky., After the vote. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil disputes. And past presidents are not immune to one or the other’s responsibility.
McConnell voted in favor of acquitting Trump on the grounds that the trial was unconstitutional because he was no longer in office, but insisted there is no doubt that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for having caused the events of the day.
This harsh rebuke from his once-staunch advocate underscores how much Trumps’ stock has plummeted in Washington since his first impeachment trial just over a year ago. But the desire to get rid of Trump is not shared across the country, where Republicans who dared to reprimand him were quickly reprimanded.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Was forced to defend her position as third leader after she voted in favor of impeachment. On Saturday, the Louisiana Republican Party quickly censored Senator Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republican senators who voted for the Trump conviction.
In an interview on Sunday with ABCs This Week, Cassidy seemed at peace with her decision.
I think his strength is waning, he said of Trump. The Republican Party is more than one person. The Republican Party is all about ideas.
But how long will Trump retain his grip remains an open question, particularly with a large number of likely candidates for 2024 now trying to take over.
Some, like Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, advocate a clean break with Trump, who ended his presidency with a record 34% approval rating according to a Gallup poll. Others have emphasized the need to keep his constituents engaged, perhaps with candidates who tout the policies championed by Trump, but with a less caustic style that could win back suburban voters.
As a sign of his enduring power, the Republican National Committee and other groups stood trial sending fundraising appeals urging their supporters to stand with Trump and SAVE President Trumps Legacy, in the words of the Republican National Committee of Congress.
Oh, time is going to take care of that one way or another, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters on Saturday. But remember, to be a leader you have to have followers. So, I will find out, whoever leads. But everyone will be involved. Were a big tent.
While the Senate has not prevented Trump from running for office again, many believe he has done too much harm to be a credible candidate himself in 2024.
Retiring Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said Trump’s refusal to accept the election results had severely damaged his reputation, overshadowing his achievements in office.
Instead, Toomey said, the president is remembered throughout history for resorting to illegal measures in an attempt to retain power.
–By Jill Colvin
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