In his first speech back in Washington since losing a second term as President, Donald Trump let some big, autocratic ideas spill out for how to run America. Riffing off his written remarks, Trump said the government should “remove” thousands of homeless Americans and put them in tents on “large parcels of inexpensive land in the outer reaches of the cities” with “permanent bathrooms” and “medical professionals.” He said the U.S. should “execute” drug dealers, praised how China prosecutes criminals, and called for a “return to stop-and-frisk policies in cities.” If he were still running the country, he said, he would override governors and mayors and send the national guard to neighborhoods with high crime rates.
The former President laid out a dark vision of the country since he left office. “We’re a war zone,” he said, adding, “There is no longer respect for the law and there certainly is no order. Our country is now a cesspool of crime.”
He also repeated the lie that he won the 2020 election. After noting that he ran for President the first time and won, he continued, “I won a second time, did much better a second time. Did a lot better. Did a lot better. Very corrupt.” Trump said he thought Richard Nixon, who resigned from the presidency in disgrace after abusing his power in office, “always regretted that he didn’t fight.”
Trump all but confirmed he plans to run for president in 2024. As the audience of about 800 in the crowded hotel ballroom chanted, “Four more years,” Trump said the country was getting ready for “an incredible comeback” if Republicans take back Congress and the White House. “I’m doing it for America and it is my honor to do it,” Trump said about considering running for president again. “If I don’t, our nation is doomed.”
Looming over Trump’s remarks was the work of the Jan. 6 committee, which wrapped up a series of revealing hearings last week that offered evidence of how Trump’s actions led to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The final hearing on Thursday focused on how Trump spent over three hours that day refusing to calm down his supporters, who had turned into a violent mob. Trump defended those who had been charged for their role in storming the Capitol Building, alleging they were being “tortured and handled so horribly.” “People are not going to take it much longer,” Trump said, echoing the justifications he’s made in the past for his supporters turning violent.
Trump was the final speaker at a summit hosted by the America First Policy Institute on how to extend his agenda into the future. In some ways, the two-day summit had all the trappings of a traditional Washington policy event with panel discussions on health care policy, policing and national security. Policy papers were stacked on tables. One paper was titled, “Tales from the Swamp: How Federal Bureaucrats Resisted President Trump.” The 35-page report detailed ways that civil servants blocked or slowed down policies Trump wanted done and called for Congress to empower Presidents to more easily fire civil servants.
For people who had worked in the Trump White House, it had a feeling of a high school reunion. Between events, Trump’s former campaign manager and White House aide Kellyanne Conway greeted former White House colleagues like press aide Hogan Gidley and Trump’s former head speech writer and senior advisor Stephen Miller. Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is running for governor in Arkansas, was there as well.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, sat down for a discussion with Newt Gingrich, who led a Republican surge in the House in the early 90s to become House Speaker. McCarthy believes he will replace Nancy Peloi as Speaker next year, predicting Republicans will take control of the House in the mid-terms. “We can lock in a conservative majority for the decade,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy didn’t mention Trump’s actions during or leading up to the Capitol attack, on Jan. 6, which he harshly criticized in the days after it. Speaking on the House floor on Jan. 13, 2021, McCarthy said Trump “bears responsibility” for the deadly riot. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding,” McCarthy said at the time.
Trump’s return to Washington on Tuesday did not go unnoticed throughout the rest of the city. Before Trump came on stage, a van circled the hotel with a big-screen display that read “Biden won the election with 81,000 votes (most in history)” “Welcome back to Washington, D.C. Trump, you lost.” Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence was at another hotel in the area, addressing the National Conservative Student Conference hosted by the Young America’s Foundation, where he gave a veiled criticism of Trump’s election denials. Elections should be about the future, he said, and Republicans should not “look back.”
Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin next week to support his pick for Governor of Wisconsin, Tim Michels. Michaels has refused to acknowledge Biden won Wisconsin.
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