Former President Donald Trump wants to reassert control over Republicans by billing himself as the party’s “presumptive 2024 nominee” after losing reelection to President Joe Biden.
Trump is scheduled to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference to take place in Florida over the weekend. He intends to use his speech to pummel the Biden administration as well as stake his claim as the de facto head of the GOP moving forward, Axios reports, citing anonymous allies of the ex-president.
Some close to the former president believe that Trump is unlikely to run again in 2024. According to Axios: “Many Trump confidants think he’ll pretend to run but ultimately pass. He knows the possibility — or threat — gives him leverage and attention.”
Trump senior adviser Jason Miller said, “Trump effectively is the Republican Party.” Miller added, “the only chasm is between Beltway insiders and grassroots Republicans around the country. When you attack President Trump, you’re attacking the Republican grassroots.”
Another Trump adviser said the former president wants his speech to be a “show of force” that reminds Republicans, especially those that have become increasingly critical of Trump in recent weeks, that “I may not have Twitter or the Oval Office, but I’m still in charge.” Trump is intent on exacting revenge on Republicans who he feels betrayed him in the weeks following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. He is reportedly organizing a formal process to vet primary candidates for his endorsement against certain elected Republicans.
A number of GOP lawmakers and high-profile Republicans have criticized Trump in recent weeks over the events of Jan. 6. In several cases, Republican state parties have voted to censure lawmakers, such as Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who supported impeaching and convicting Trump of allegedly inciting the Capitol riot.
Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, was an early GOP critic of Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 and faced blowback in her state as well as from prominent Republicans such as Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida and Trump’s son, Donald Jr. While some outspoken Republicans called for Cheney to be ousted from her House leadership position, she ultimately kept her spot in a 145-61 vote.
Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley was also critical of Trump in a February profile of her in Politico. She said she was “disgusted” by Trump’s attacks on his then vice president, Mike Pence, on Jan. 6.
“When I tell you I’m angry, it’s an understatement,” Haley said. “Mike has been nothing but loyal to that man. He’s been nothing but a good friend of that man. … I am so disappointed in the fact that [despite] the loyalty and friendship he had with Mike Pence, that he would do that to him. Like, I’m disgusted by it.”
Haley later reportedly attempted to set up a meeting with Trump after the Politico profile was published. Trump reportedly rejected the offer, an apparent snub after her criticisms of him.