Donald Trump is plotting a campaign revenge tour targeting Republican defectors after the Senate impeachment trial concludes, sources have said.
Strategists at Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago private resort where he now lives are planning potential trips against GOP members who voted in support of his removal from office, according to Business Insider that cited six sources.
‘I’m sure he wants to get out a roulette wheel with all their faces on it,’ one of the Republicans who remains close with Trump and his inner circle said.
The former president is currently lying low as House Democrats prepare to make their case that Trump was directly responsibly for the January 6 Capitol riots.
Trump refused a challenge from Democrats on Thursday to testify at the Senate impeachment trial proceedings, that will begin on February 9.
Trump on January 6 had told his supporters during a ‘Save America’ rally that they needed to ‘fight’ to overturn the election in the hours leading up to the Capitol riots. He is expected to go on tour again following the impeachment trial, accused of being directly responsible for inciting the riots at the Capitol that saw five people killed
Almost to the day in February last year, Trump celebrated his first impeachment acquittal by holding up copies of major newspapers proclaiming the news.
However, the first trial was much closer than the second is expected to be, with just one Republican – Mitt Romney – crossing party lines against the then-president.
This year, the numbers are already larger. However, no one in Trump’s circle is expecting him to lose, with Democrats requiring two-thirds for a conviction.
But Trump and his staff are also treading carefully, knowing that it will not be the right time to wade back into the public debate until after the trial has finished.
‘Even he recognizes that we have Trump fatigue,’ said the Republican close to Trump, speaking to Business Insider.
‘Even he knows that you can get overexposed, and he wore the electorate out. And that was part of the problem. He clearly wore the country out with his behavior between the election and the inauguration.’
‘Honestly, Twitter did him a favor,’ the Republican added, referring to the social media company’s life-time ban on Trump.
Pictured: U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a copy of the Washington Post newspaper with the headline ‘Trump acquitted’ during an event at the White House in Washington, D.C. on February 6, 2020
If Trump does go on tour again, sources have said that he is expected to target the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of his impeachment on January 13.
The former president has also reportedly been keeping a close eye on any Republican senators that cross him.
Before his Twitter account was closed down last month, Trump encouraged South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to mount a 2022 primary challenge against Sen. John Thune, who spoke out against efforts to overturn the 2020 election result.
Another potential target of Trump could include the three-term Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who has been an outspoken Trump critic and who joined Democrats last month to vote in favor of proceeding to the Senate trial.
Top-Trump allies also targeted Rep. Liz Cheney, the Wyoming Republican and No. 3 in the House GOP ranks, after she voted to impeach Trump last month.
Republican Representatives Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz claimed they had the votes to remove her from leadership, but instead lost the leadership vote on Wednesday night, with house Republicans voting 145-61 to keep her in the position.
Trump’s advisers are being cautious about exactly when the former president should return to the media spotlight, not wanting Trump to attack every possible target.
However, they also don’t want him to lose his grip on the GOP, and are keen to hand him back the megaphone and speak publicly again as soon as possible.
Top-Trump allies also targeted Rep. Liz Cheney (pictured), the Wyoming Republican and No. 3 in the House GOP ranks, after she voted to impeach Trump last month
One GOP figure told Business Insider that he anticipates that it won’t be long before Trump returns to the circuit
‘Trump is clearly shell shocked from the reaction to January 6 and losing his social media platform,’ Doug Heye, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, told the news outlet.
‘We don’t know how long that will last, but it’s safe to assume we’ll be hearing from him at some point.’
Meanwhile, some believe Trump should stay out of the public view for a while longer, and are wary of him making a revenge tour that could divide the party further.
‘Trump would do best for himself and the party by laying low for a few years,’ said Mike DuHaime, a longtime Republican strategist, who referenced President George W. Bush’s tactic of keeping his head down until the time is right.
Bush, he said, is ‘more popular now than when he left office, partially because he stayed above petty politics and became a statesman, and because history can judge his accomplishments and intentions better in retrospect.’
Trump spokesman Jason Miller told Business Insider that ‘it’s too soon to discuss specific 2022 campaign activity.’
On Wednesday, Trump adviser Jason Miller told DailyMail.com that ‘the president will not testify in an unconstitutional proceeding.’
And Trump attorney Bruce Castor told NBC News that ‘no’ the former president would not take the stand and he called the letter a ‘publicity stunt.’
Lead Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin wrote that if Trump declines to testify ‘we reserve any and all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference regarding your actions (and inaction) on January 6, 2021’
The former president is currently lying low as House Democrats prepare to make their case that Trump was directly responsibly for the January 6 Capitol riots (pictured)
Lead Impeachment Manager Rep. Jamie Raskin sent a letter to Trump on Thursday, asking he provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, about his conduct on January 6, the day his MAGA supporters stormed the Capitol.
Trump attorneys Castor and David Schoen acknowledged receipt of what they called Democrats ‘latest public relations stunt’ and accused the managers of playing games.
‘Your letter only confirms what is known to everyone: you cannot prove your allegations against the 45th president of the United States, who is now a private citizen,’ they wrote in their response.
‘The use of our constitution to bring a purported impeachment proceeding is much too serious to try to play these games,’ they added.
Raskin had requested a response from Trump’s team by no later than Friday, February 5, 2021 at 5 pm.
House impeachment managers asked former President Donald Trump to testify under oath in his impeachment trial next week
The surprise move to invite Trump to testify indicates they intend to aggressively prosecute the former president. The House managers do not have independent authority to subpoena Trump so they must invite him to make his case.
‘In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, concerning your conduct on January 6, 2021.
‘We would propose that you provide your testimony (of course including cross-examination) as early as Monday, February 8, 2021, and not later than Thursday, February 11, 2021. We would be pleased to arrange such testimony at a mutually convenient time and place,’ Raskin wrote.
‘If you decline this invitation, we reserve any and all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference regarding your actions (and inaction) on January 6, 2021,’ Raskin noted.
The news that Trump could go on tour again comes after a poll found that Republicans quickly losing interest in him running for president again in 2024.
In new polling conducted by Echelon Insights, 45 per cent of GOP-leaning voters in January said they wanted to see Trump run for the White House again in four years, down from the 65 per cent who said so in December.
Prior to the January 6 Capitol Hill insurrection, 65 per cent of Republicans wanted to see former President Donald Trump run in 2024. In January, that number fell to 45 per cent
The January 6 insurrection may have played a role in the 20-point dip as January polling found that even 30 per cent of Republicans wanted to see the ex-president barred from holding office again after the MAGA riot.
At the same time, Democrats and independents were way more keen to see Trump punished for his role in inciting the crowd on January 6.
Fifty-two per cent of independents said Trump shouldn’t be able to run again, with 85 per cent of Democrats in agreement.
Thirty per cent of Republicans also agreed that Trump should be banned from social media platforms, with 29 per cent saying they’d support the ex-president being censured by Congress.
The smallest group of Republicans, 21 per cent, wanted to see Trump impeached and convicted.
Pollsters also asked Republicans over the past few months who they wanted as the leader of their party.
Trump’s popularity actually increased after he lost the November 3 election to President Joe Biden.
In November, 52 per cent of Republicans said they wanted Trump to be the leading voice of their party. That number popped up to 61 per cent in December.
It then plummeted 20 points to 41 per cent in January, with 40 per cent of Republicans now saying they’d like ‘someone new’ to take control of the party.
‘A dog and pony show’: Some Democratic senators question the decision to push for Trump testimony
The impeachment trial against Trump begins Tuesday in the Senate. All 100 senators were sworn in as jurors last week when the impeachment article was formally presented to the upper chamber.
Some Democratic senators questioned the decision to have Trump testify, with Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia said it would be a ‘dog and pony show.’
And Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a close alley of President Joe Biden, called Trump testifying a ‘terrible idea.’ When asked why, he responded: ‘Have you met President Trump?’
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally of Trump, threatened to bring in the FBI to testify if Democrats called witnesses.
‘If you open that can of worms, we’ll want the FBI to come in and tell us about how people pre-planned this attack and what happened with the security footprint at the Capitol,’ Graham said on Fox News earlier this week.
‘You open up Pandora’s Box if you call one witness,’ he added.
Graham speaks to Trump regularly and is the liaison between the former president and Senate Republicans.
He told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday afternoon he last spoke to the former president a few days ago.
President Trump spoke to a rally of his supporters the morning of the MAGA riot, encouraging them to march on the Capitol
‘He’s in pretty good spirits. Trying to get adjusted to his new life and uh, I think very focused on 2022, trying to help us come back,’ Graham said.
He said the House managers calling on Trump to testify was ‘obviously a political ploy on their part’ and pointed out they could have asked Trump to testify in the House before they held the impeachment vote.
He said he didn’t think Trump would testify.
‘No, I don’t think that would be in anybody’s interest,’ he said. ‘Just cause it’s just a nightmare for the country to do this, it’s just a political showboat move to do this.’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked about Graham’s threat to call in the FBI at her press conference on Thursday morning dismissed the question.
‘Your question is a waste of time,’ she said.
President Trump spoke to a rally outside the White House the morning of the January 6th insurrection, where he encouraged his supporters to march on Capitol Hill where lawmakers were going to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.
The pro-Trump crowd stormed the Capitol, interrupted the certification process and caused a riot that left five people dead and a wake of destruction in their path.
Trump attorney Bruce Castor revealed Trump will use a free speech defense. He and Schoen submitted a legal brief on Tuesday that used more formal language to deny the charge of ‘incitement of insurrection.’
‘It is denied that the 45th President engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States,’ Trump’s lawyers wrote.
The January 6th insurrection left five people dead
In their legal brief, Trump’s lawyers defended some of the president’s most incendiary language, while trying to soften his claims that the election was ‘stolen’ and ‘rigged.’
They admit that ‘persons unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol,’ according to the brief. But it calls the phrase ‘Seditions acts’ brought by Democrats a ‘term of art that he denies.’
The brief denies that Trump ‘incited the crowd to engage in destructive behavior’ and denied the phrase ‘if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore’ had ‘anything to do with the action at the Capitol as it was clearly about the need to fight for election security in general.’
Many of the rioters were armed with weapons including axes, baseball bats, and flag poles. Several have identified Trump himself as inspiring their actions. Federal authorities are also investigating militia groups who met before Trump spoke and organized travel in advance of the Jan. 6 rally, which took place the day Congress met to count the electoral votes.
The House moved quickly to impeach Trump on one article – violating his oath of office ‘by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.’ Ten House Republicans crossed over to join Democrats in voting for the impeachment, making Trump the only president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.
At least 17 Republican would need to join all 50 Democrats in the evenly divided Senate for Trump to be convicted, a two-thirds threshold that appears unlikely to be reached.
There was a debate among scholars over whether the Senate can hold a trial for Trump since he left office on January 20.
Trump’s defense team is expected to argue the impeachment trial is unconstitutional.
A conviction could bare Trump from every holding federal office again – which would rule out a 2024 presidential bid – but there seems little appetite among Senate Republicans to convict the former president.
Senator Rand Paul last week proposed a resolution calling the trial unconstitutional. It didn’t pass the Senate but 45 GOP senators joined his effort, effectively signalling Trump will be acquitted.
House Impeachment Managers’ Letter to Donald J. Trump
February 4, 2021
President Donald J. Trump c/o Bruce L. Castor Jr. and David Schoen
Dear President Trump,
As you are aware, the United States House of Representatives has approved an article of impeachment against you for incitement of insurrection. See H. Res. 24. The Senate trial for this article of impeachment will begin on Tuesday, February 9, 2021. See S. Res. 16.
Two days ago, you filed an Answer in which you denied many factual allegations set forth in the article of impeachment. You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense. In light of your disputing these factual allegations, I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, concerning your conduct on January 6, 2021. We would propose that you provide your testimony (of course including cross-examination) as early as Monday, February 8, 2021, and not later than Thursday, February 11, 2021. We would be pleased to arrange such testimony at a mutually convenient time and place.
Presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton both provided testimony while in office—and the Supreme Court held just last year that you were not immune from legal process while serving as President—so there is no doubt that you can testify in these proceedings. Indeed, whereas a sitting President might raise concerns about distraction from their official duties, that concern is obviously inapplicable here. We therefore anticipate your availability to testify.
If you decline this invitation, we reserve any and all rights, including the right to establish at trial that your refusal to testify supports a strong adverse inference regarding your actions (and inaction) on January 6, 2021.
I would request that you respond to this letter by no later than Friday, February 5, 2021 at 5pm. I look forward to your response and to your testimony.
Very truly yours,
Jamie Raskin Lead Impeachment Manager