WASHINGTON (AP) – Donald Trump took the victory in Mar-a-Lago, surrounded by friends and family. His lawyers celebrated with hugs and smiles. One joked: “We’re going to Disney World!”
Acquitted now in his second Senate trial against charge, Trump is preparing for the next phase of his life after the presidency. He is encouraged by the outcome of the lawsuit and is expected to return from a self-imposed hibernation at his club in Palm Beach, Florida, and is looking at ways to restore his power.
But after being excluded from Twitter, the former president is missing the bullshit on social media that fueled his political progress. And he confronts a Republican party deeply divided over the legacy of his grim last days in office, culminating in Jan. 6. storm of the Capitol. Hurtful video footage of the day played out in the loop during his trial against the indictment, which ended Saturday.
Trump remains popular among the GOP base, but many Republicans in Washington have cooled to him. Never before have so many members of a presidential party – in his case seven GOP senators – voted for his removal in a Senate trial.
Some may work to counter Trump’s efforts to support extreme candidates in next year’s congressional elections.
Untouched, friends and allies expect Trump to resume friendly media interviews after weeks of silence. He has met with political aides to discuss efforts to help Republicans try to take control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. He is still fixated on demanding revenge on Republicans who supported his accusation or resisted his efforts to overthrow the results of the November election won by Democrat Joe Biden.
“I imagine you’ll probably hear a lot more from him in the coming days,” said senior adviser Jason Miller.
In a statement after the vote, Trump offered few clues, but was defiant when he told supporters that their movement “has only just begun.”
“In the coming months, I have a lot to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all our people,” he said.
Senator Lindsey Graham, who spoke with Trump Saturday night, acknowledged that Trump is “angry at some people,” but also “ready to move on and rebuild the Republican Party” and “excited for 2022.”
In their talks, Graham has stressed to Trump, who has threatened to start his own party to punish disloyal Republicans, that the GOP needs him to win.
“I said, ‘Mr. Mr President, this MAGA movement must continue. We have to unite the party. Trump-plus is way back in 2022, ”Graham, RS.C., told Fox News Sunday. ”
“My goal is to win in 2022 to stop the most radical agenda I have seen coming out of the democratic presidency of Joe Biden. We can not do it without Donald Trump, so he is ready to get on track and I am ready to work with him, “said Graham.
Graham said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who votes to acquit but then delivered a scathing dismissal of Trump, “obviously got a burden off a breast.” Graham said later in the interview, “If you want to get something out of your chest, fine, but I’m about to win.”
At his Palm Beach club Saturday night, Trump was in a happy mood as he enjoyed dinner in a courtyard filled with people. After a soft last several weeks, a member described a party atmosphere that had not been felt since before the election.
Trump is still not clear yet. He is no longer protected by a statement from the Justice Department against the prosecution of incumbent presidents several ongoing criminal investigations.
In Georgia, the district attorney in Fulton County has done so opened a criminal investigation into “attempts to influence” the election, including Trump’s call for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who demanded that the official find enough votes to overthrow Biden’s victory.
In New York, Attorney General Letitia James investigates whether Trump and his firm improperly inflated the value of his assets in the financial statements to secure loans and obtain tax benefits. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. continues its own investigation, which has included testimony of the grand jury.
“He did not get rid of anything – yet,” McConnell, R-Ky., After the vote. “We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil cases. And former presidents are not immune to being held accountable by any of them. ”
McConnell voted to acquit Trump on the grounds that the trial was unconstitutional because he no longer handles it, but insisted: “There is no doubt – no one – that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking today’s events.”
The sharp reprimand from his once loyal defender underscores how dramatically Trump’s stock has fallen in Washington since his first prosecution just over a year ago. But the desire to get rid of Trump is not shared across the country, where Republicans who have dared to admonish him have had quick reprimands.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., Was forced to defend her third senior position after she voted in favor of the indictment. On Saturday, Louisiana’s Republican Party quickly criticized Senator Bill Cassidy, one of the seven Republican senators who voted for Trump’s convictions.
In an interview Sunday with ABC’s “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 just one person. The Republican Party is about ideas. ”
But how long Trump retains his grip remains an open question, especially with a number of likely 2024 candidates now trying to take the mantle.
Some, like Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, is in favor of a clean break from Trump, who ended his presidency with a record low approval rating of 34% according to the Gallup poll. Others have stressed the need to keep its voters engaged, perhaps with candidates trumpeting the policies Trump fought for, but with a less caustic style that could possibly win back suburban voters.
As a sign of his continued power, the Republican National Committee and other groups used the lawsuit to collect fundraising appeals urging their supporters to “stand with Trump” and “GEM President Trump’s legacy” in the words of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
“Oh, time will take care of it somehow,” Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Saturday. “But remember, to be a leader you have to have followers. So we find out who is leading. But everyone gets involved. We are a big tent. ”
While the Senate failed to prevent Trump from running again as a mandate, many believe he has done too much damage to be a credible candidate even in 2024.
Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring, said Trump’s refusal to accept the election result had “very seriously damaged his reputation,” darkening his performance in office.
“Instead,” Toomey said, “he will be remembered throughout history as the president who took illegal steps to try to hold on to power.”
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