Cocooned in Mar-a-Lago, the newly acquitted ex-president is stepping up his political activities.
Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather along Southern Blvd. near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home on Monday in West Palm Beach, Fla. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images
There’s no longer a chief of staff to screen his calls and he keeps no predictable working hours. So an unspoken rule has governed Donald Trump’s calendar since he left Washington last month: To sit down with the former president, you must belong to his posh Palm Beach club or know how to contact him directly.
But even that won’t always do it. For weeks now, Trump has rejected meetings with everyone from former South Carolina governor and 2024 hopeful Nikki Haley to House and Senate GOP candidates vying for his ear — preferring to spend his days leisurely calling friends, binging cable news, golfing with a rotating cast of partners and basking in standing ovations whenever he arrives for dinner on Mar-a-Lago’s outdoor patio. One person close to the ex-president said he’s become “unreachable” to anyone outside his limited circle of loyal aides, longtime friends and die-hard political allies.
According to three people familiar with the planning, Trump will soon begin vetting candidates at Mar-a-Lago who are eager to fulfill his promise to exact vengeance upon incumbent Republicans who’ve scorned him, and to ensure every open GOP seat in the 2022 midterms has a MAGA-approved contender vying for it.
Trump already has received dozens of requests from prospective candidates seeking to introduce themselves and nab his endorsement, and formal meetings with them could begin as early as March. Now that Trump has survived his second Senate impeachment trial, he has shifted his focus to post-presidential activism — a venture mostly bankrolled by his new leadership PAC, Save America, which had $31 million in its coffers at the start of this month.
Earlier this week, Trump met with his former campaign manager Brad Parscale to discuss online fundraising components to support his efforts and how he can utilize social media despite his ban from popular websites like Twitter. Trump also met with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), and his eldest son Don Jr. earlier this week.
And on Saturday, Trump is expected to make an appearance at a fundraising dinner for Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) at Mar-a-Lago with guests including MAGA firebrands Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) according to an invitation.
“We are in the process of putting together a more formal schedule for candidates who want to come get his endorsement,” said senior Trump adviser Jason Miller, noting that Trump’s meetings so far have been limited to golf friends, Mar-a-Lago members and “folks with the ability to contact him themselves.”
The planning for Trump’s coming revenge tour comes as other top Republicans try to cajole him into working with the party’s apparatus ahead of next year’s midterm elections, rather than recruiting rival candidates whose bids could complicate primaries and cost the GOP critical seats. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S. C.) is expected to meet with Trump over the weekend to discuss his upcoming plans, including the former president’s desire to push for voter reforms at a time when the topic of election integrity has created a major split among elected Republicans.
Others in Trump’s orbit have encouraged him to wait and see if Republicans who’ve crossed him and are up for reelection next fall, such as Govs. Mike DeWine of Ohio and Brian Kemp of Georgia, attempt a peace offering before he launches a serious search for possible primary challengers.