Amid the legal battle, Trump turns his attention to 2024



CNN

Donald Trump is accelerating plans for another presidential campaign because he believes Republicans are on the verge of making significant gains in next month’s election and many of his handpicked candidates will prevail.

Sources close to the former president, many of whom were not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations, said he is eager to begin his next chapter, even as he battles a web of legal troubles. Trump’s shift in focus to his political future follows recent campaign stops in Nevada, Ohio, Arizona and Michigan, where the success or failure of GOP candidates he’s backed could influence his next move.

Behind the scenes, he has spent the final weeks of the 2022 cycle preparing his political operation for another presidential campaign, including gathering his campaign leadership, finding plans for his remaining midterm rallies and looking for a place to launch his supposed political comeback. . His lawyers have also been seeking solutions to some of his legal problems – notably the Justice Department’s investigation into government records he kept after he left office – to free up time to focus on his political future.

One Trump adviser said his political operation would be “very busy after the midterm elections,” while others indicated there was little left for him to do another campaign at this point.

“I would be surprised if he didn’t run,” said Matt Schlapp, a Trump loyalist who leads the American Conservative Union. “I think the only things holding him back at this point are that he thought it was a fluke and he didn’t think he could win, or if there’s a health reason.”

“The wheels are turning for him to be ready to go as soon as he wants after November 8,” added a person close to Trump.

In a recent interview with CBS News, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, said the former president would “love” to make an announcement after his term and before Thanksgiving, echoing sources close to the former president who told CNN That they expected immediate change by 2024. Election day The exact timing of the campaign launch is still being debated between Trump and his team. Although many advisers believe it cannot wait until next year, some have encouraged the announcement after the new Congress sits in January 2023.

Trump himself hinted at a speech on Saturday that he is likely to launch a third bid for the White House, declaring in his clearest terms yet: “I’ll probably have to do it again.”

The former president’s recent activities certainly reflect the candidate-in-waiting. At his rally in Robstown, Texas, on Saturday, he arrived in his beloved Boeing 757 jet, which he and allies nicknamed “Trump Force One” his favorite rallying prop for his previous office. The plane, which recently completed repairs, is expected to be back on the campaign trail in the coming weeks. Trump has put different leadership structures in place for his campaign and has sought advice from allies on whether he should appoint a campaign manager and, if so, who that person should be. Four people familiar with the matter said he strongly hopes to offer the leadership position to longtime GOP strategist Chris LaCivita, who currently runs one of his key fundraising vehicles, and has also discussed promoting Sergio Gor to the top job, two of the people said. . Gor is a former Rand Paul aide who now runs a conservative publishing business with Trump’s son, Don Jr.

“Chris has a lot of sense and a reputation for being a very good political operative,” said one Trump adviser. “Trump sees value in bringing in a real political professional this time.” LaCivita declined to comment on the record.

“It’s going to be a similar operation to what we’ve done, but we’re building it now,” said a senior Trump aide.

Trump has also received input from advisers on what the broad infrastructure should look like from what should be his campaign headquarters. The former president has spent most of his time since leaving office at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, although several sources have described the beachfront compound as too small and expensive for a presidential campaign. Currently, aides say the top choices are in Florida or the Washington, D.C., area (Trump’s 2020 campaign was based in Northern Virginia).

“I’m pushing for a campaign headquarters in Florida. What he’s been through with New York’s attorney general infects the entire state. And I don’t think Mar-a-Lago will have a campaign headquarters, it’s the most expensive real estate in the southeastern United States,” said Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign aide who remains close to the former president.

Sources said the campaign model being discussed will be lean and staffed, unlike the operation that led to an unexpected victory in 2016, but far from the robust and expensive 2020 campaign. an emphasis on ensuring that advisers who have helped professionalize his post-presidential operation are installed in key campaign positions. Two of those figures, Brian Jack and Susie Wiles, are already expected to hold senior positions in the 2024 Trump campaign, the sources said. Jack served as White House political director under Trump and currently heads the political operation for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Neither he nor Wiles declined to comment for this story.

In September, Trump allies MAGA Inc. They launched a new super PAC called Trump to promote Trump’s midterm candidates and provide a fundraising tool for Trump to use in 2024. The group spent $8.8 million on advertising during the November election, according to the data. AdImpact.

“It is a pending campaign. There’s no doubt about it,” said a current Trump aide.

Of course, Trump has reversed course before and there are those close to the former president who remain skeptical that he will end up running a grueling presidential campaign.

Now 76, Trump would be nearly 80 at the start of a second term in 2025, and family members once heavily involved in his political calculations have expressed little interest in helping with another campaign. Those include his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who said they have been minimally involved in Trump’s political activities since moving to Miami after his presidency ended, according to two people familiar with their involvement.

“I think it’s still a 50-50 toss if he runs,” one adviser said. “Does he want to be president? yes Does he want to spend the next two years dealing with that shit? No.”

Some have suggested that Trump, who loves a good guessing game, has done little to stop speculation about his 2024 intentions as he continues to make up his own mind. Waiting until the next session of Congress, when Trump hopes to have a Republican House majority, or even waiting until next February’s Super Bowl are two recently floated options, according to several sources familiar with his thinking.

The outcome of the numerous investigations surrounding Trump may also become a factor as he charts his political future.

The former president remains embroiled in multiple high-profile legal battles at the state and federal levels, sources say. On Friday, the House committee investigating January 6, 2021 subpoenaed Trump for his involvement in efforts to cancel the 2020 election and his activities on the day pro-Trump rioters tore through the US Capitol. Last month, the Justice Department subpoenaed dozens of former and current Trump allies, advisers and aides as it investigated the deadly incident. Trump also remains under investigation in Fulton County, Georgia, for meddling in the state’s 2020 election results, and at least one of his top advisers, Kash Patel, recently appeared before a federal grand jury investigating the former president’s retention of classified documents after he left office. . .

As CNN previously reported, Trump’s legal team has tried to ease the pressure on him by taking a less combative stance toward investigators, including those looking into keeping government records at his Mar-a-Lago residence.

But while he remains embattled, some of Trump’s allies say his desire to run again has not waned, and has intensified after FBI agents conducted an unprecedented search of his Florida home in August.

“If you understand Donald Trump, the decisions his opponents have made have driven him to run,” Caputo said. “They made it almost impossible for him to leave.”

While Trump’s midterm travels have been erratic so far, sources familiar with his plans said he is eyeing a flurry of campaign rallies in the final week before Election Day, though nothing firm has been scheduled.

The former president will be away from the campaign trail next weekend as his Doral National Golf Club hosts the LIV Golf Tournament, but his aides have been working to schedule appearances in a few states and races that could boost Republican turnout. make a difference in the margins. Although nothing has been decided, visits to Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania are being actively discussed, sources said.

But with Trump using a potential red wave as a backdrop to launch his presidential campaign, some Republicans say he is likely to claim more credit than he is due. A Republican who speaks regularly with Trump but spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said the former president’s midterm schedule may indicate a 2024 campaign won’t go as well as expected, pointing to several races where candidates have passed Trump. profile GOP surrogates.

“You can take it [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis anywhere in the country and it feels pretty good. You can take Ted Cruz anywhere in the country. You can take Tom Cotton anywhere, Nikki [Haley], [Mike] Pompeo,” said the Republican close to Trump.

They continued: “If you can’t go to a state – unless a campaign literally doesn’t want you – that says a lot about your strength as a candidate. It is an indication of your general support and your ability to attract swing and crossover voters”.