- Trump left Florida to escape the heat and moved his political operation to New Jersey.
- But the criminal investigation of his business has Republicans chattering that Trump is in jeopardy.
- Trump appears nonplussed. “He’s still king of the castle,” one advisor said.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Donald Trump’s hot vax summer is officially lit.
Since decamping to New Jersey from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, the former president is filling his days with endless rounds of golf and emailed tirades against enemies.
Trump is likewise in entertaining mode, hosting a fundraiser for his super PAC last weekend at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course.
He also may be plotting a 2024 comeback: issuing candidate endorsements, making quick side trips to Trump Tower in New York City, and planning a return to campaign-style rallies over the coming month.
Nothing, it seems, will prevent Trump from doing Trump during his COVID-carefree summer: not even the massive legal storm clouds gathering on the horizon of Trump’s gilded Garden State stomping grounds, nor the prosecutorial heat emanating from New York.
Trump has been hit with news that New York prosecutors impaneled a grand jury to investigate whether his namesake organization committed financial crimes and that New York Attorney General Tish James has joined in the criminal investigation of his company.
Trump’s response, via email, bore the hallmarks of previous scandals, from the federal investigation of his 2016 campaign to his second impeachment for inciting the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
“This is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history. It began the day I came down the escalator in Trump Tower, and it’s never stopped,” Trump said in a statement. “They wasted two years and $48 million in taxpayer dollars on Mueller and Russia Russia Russia, Impeachment Hoax #1, Impeachment Hoax #2, and it continues to this day, with illegally leaked confidential information.”
A Trump spokesman did not return a request for comment for this story.
The leisurely 45
Trump has become an even more prolific golfer since leaving the White House, something advisors credit with him dropping weight.
And golfing for the former president is even easier at his New Jersey estate, where he lives on the grounds of the 18-hole golf course.
“He walks out of what we call his apartment, he gets on the golf cart, and he’s on the course,” one Trump advisor said.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump also keep a “cottage” at the expansive Bedminster country club, which has led to speculation from some Republicans that the power couple are reasserting their influence after pulling back from daily operations in the wake of Trump leaving the White House.
While the former president regularly meets with advisors at Bedminster and hosted a super PAC fundraiser there last weekend, he’s also using it as a summertime springboard to New York City an hour away, where he can conduct business at Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan.
“It’s easier to hold court there,” a second Trump advisor said, adding that Trump’s office takes up an entire floor of his eponymous tower.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who led efforts to overturn the 2020 election results his state, touted his meeting at Trump Tower in a Facebook Live post. Mastriano is considering a run for governor there. He said last week that Trump told him he should take the plunge.
The continued pilgrimages by ambitious Republicans seeking Trump’s time and approval indicate that despite the former president’s troubles — the multiple investigations, his social-media banishment, being increasingly pinched for attention by his own adherents such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Sen. Josh Hawley — Trump rules the Republican Party from Bedminster.
“Let’s just say he’s still king of the castle,” the second Trump advisor said.
Looking toward 2024
That “king” is now actively using that New Jersey vacation castle to plot a return to his trademark campaign rallies, which propelled him to prominence in 2016 but fell by the wayside in the summer last year after a false start in the middle of the pandemic.
Trump has also promised a forthcoming social-media venture as a workaround to Twitter and Facebook barring him after he helped incite the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
It’s all part of Trump’s hyping the prospect of a 2024 presidential-campaign comeback.
The conservative pundit Dan Bongino, who’s attempting to secure the powerful radio slot formerly held by Rush Limbaugh, recently interviewed Trump, who teased a return in 2024.
Trump’s advancements toward another presidential run come as he faces legal trouble in Manhattan, with James, New York’s attorney general, and with Fani T. Willis, the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia who opened a criminal investigation into Trump over his efforts to overturn the election results in that state.
Federal Election Commission complaints and a defamation lawsuit from the writer E. Jean Carroll, who alleges Trump raped her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s, are also proceeding against Trump.
Trump has repeatedly denied Carroll’s allegation. And Trump has not otherwise been charged with any crime.
But say Trump were charged — and convicted. Insider reported this week that even if he were in prison, Trump could still run for president.
The anti-Trump Republican George Conway said in reply to Insider’s report that Trump may run precisely to get himself out of prison.
“A decent constitutional argument could be made that, were he elected, they’d have to spring him so he could serve — which increases the likelihood he’ll run,” Conway tweeted.
In the meantime, Trump and his political operation are outwardly focused not on prosecutions but partying.
“It’s almost my father’s birthday!” a text to supporters from Donald Trump Jr. said Thursday.
Click the link, and you’re invited to digitally sign “a HUGE Birthday Card” — and make a cash contribution to Trump’s political committees.
“I can’t SAVE AMERICA without you! I need you to step up and make sure we have the resources to STOP THE LEFT! Stand with me now!” Trump wrote next to an automatically checked box that tacks on an additional $100 donation, payable May 31, to whatever contribution a supporter decides to make.
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