What is next for Donald Trump? Ex-POTUS eyes political comeback after impeachment acquittal
"I imagine you'll probably be hearing a lot more from him (Donald Trump) in the coming days," said Jason Miller, senior adviser to Trump's 2020 presidential campaign and his spokesperson since 2016. Miller commented shortly after the news of Trump's acquittal in the second impeachment trial created a flurry of celebration at his current residence in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.
Surrounded by friends and family, the former President and the only POTUS in history to face impeachment twice, savored the verdict amid a self-imposed seclusion from the public eye. His lawyer joked about a visit to Disney World while his son Donald Trump Jr proudly tweeted '2-0' following the verdict. Meanwhile, Trump is reportedly chalking out details to reassert his political prowess, and perhaps even gear up for a presidential run in 2024 elections.
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What is Donald Trump thinking now?
For the past few years, Americans have been accustomed to Trump using Twitter as a primary channel for sharing his insights, both political and apolitical, and quite often false information that misled people.
But ever since his permanent ban on Twitter and following the end of his tumultuous presidential term, Trump has maintained an uncanny silence for weeks. Indeed, in classic Trump style, there were occasional outbursts like his recent remark about Mitch McConnell, where he called the top Republican leader a “dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack," following McConnell's criticism of Trump. He made the comment despite the fact the McConnell voted in favor of his acquittal at the impeachment trial in the Senate.
Now, as the ex-POTUS is formally exonerated, it is likely that he will resume media interactions, reports Associated Press.
In the past few weeks, Trump has reportedly discussed his political future with aides and strategists, laying the groundwork for assuming control of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterms elections. Alongside, he still seems determined to exercise his revenge against the Republicans who voted for his conviction or the ones who countered his desperate measures to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. It now remains to be seen how exactly Trump goes about in exacting his revenge, though the seven Republican leaders who voted against his acquittal are already at the risk of being censured by the party.
Who will support Trump now?
It is not hard to assume that Trump is indeed considering a re-emergence in the political limelight, especially since he still has a steady MAGA follower base among GOP supporters, as evident from the Capitol insurrection of January 6. Especially now after the acquittal, his followers are all the more pumped up to support their idol in 'Keeping America Great'. In fact, Trump supporters organized a rally in his honor on President's Day on February 15, in front of his estate in Mar-a-lago.
The public support for him is too strong to be dwindled by even the criminal investigations currently ongoing against the former president. Ranging from sexual assault complaints, the investigations in Georgia where he pressured authorities to overturn election results, and potential tax and insurance fraud -- Trump has a series of serious criminal investigations lined up. Even then, it is unlikely that his popularity will be affected much, believes David Barker, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University.
He elaborates to VOA, "I’ll go ahead and say that he will probably survive and have influence unless the criminal probes get him and he goes to prison."
Barker particularly stresses the fact how a substantial number of GOP leaders still strongly believe in Trump. A recent poll by Quinnipiac University revealed that 3 out of 4 Republicans aim to see Trump playing a bigger role in GOP in the upcoming days.
Even though there is a visible rift in the Republican Party over Trump, his acquittal proves that more Republicans are willing to side with me than distance themselves from his controversial politics in the coming days.
"In the months ahead I have much to share with you, and I look forward to continuing our incredible journey together to achieve American greatness for all of our people," Trump said to the public after his acquittal.
What is next in line for Trump?
Trump will continue to appeal to Americans greatly with his 'America First' ideology, states Stuart Rothenberg for CQ-Roll Call. The threat of censuring the seven Republicans who voted against Trump also proves that the Republican scale of allegiance is heavier towards Trump.
Independent observers think that Trump will start to reassert his political footing by acting against his critics within the party. Thereafter, he might try to sway the favor towards him and the GOP in the 2022 midterms. For 2024, even if he ultimately decides against running for President again, he is believed to keep the talk alive as of now.
Though Trump had earlier threatened to dissociate from the Republican party and start his own party to punish the ones 'disloyal' to him, the idea does not seem much viable now. Senator Lindsey Graham shared that Trump is now ready to step back into mainstream politics once again and rebuild the Republican Party with 2022 in his mind.
Everything, of course, depends on the results of his ongoing criminal investigations. Former attorney Dean Obeidallah hopes that President Joe Biden will call for an extensive criminal investigation into Trump's role in inciting the January 6 Capitol riots.
It is yet unclear what Biden's next step towards his predecessor would be, but it must be mentioned here that Trump's former aide and top Republican Mitch McConnell himself had openly held Trump responsible for the Capitol attack and expressed his belief in the criminal justice system to take proper measures against him.
"Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former Presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one," McConnell had stated in the Senate, much to the displeasure of Trump, as evident from his immediate jibe at the former.