According to three people familiar with the conversations, the president, who refuses to acknowledge he lost the 2020 election that he clearly did, has not just talked to close advisers and confidants about a potential 2024 run to reclaim the White House but about the specifics of a campaign launch. The conversations have explored, among other things, how Trump could best time his announcement so as to keep the Republican Party behind him for the next four years. Two of these knowledgeable sources said the president has, in the past two weeks, even floated the idea of doing a 2024-related event during Biden’s inauguration week, possibly on Inauguration Day, if his legal effort to steal the 2020 election ultimately fails.
The president and some of his closest associates have already started surveying prominent donors to get a sense of who would be with him, or perhaps against him, if he chose to run in the 2024 election. Some top Trump allies have told The Daily Beast that they are doing what they can to stay in the president’s good graces, calculating that doing so will help ensure a seat at the table and a future in the party—in the event he runs again.
Trump’s scheming about a future White House run is both an implicit recognition that he views his own current legal efforts as longshots and a reflection of his inherent desire to maintain political power and public attention.
According to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, the president has privately bragged that he’d still remain in the spotlight, even if Biden is in the Oval Office, in part because the news media will keep regularly covering him since—as Trump has assessed—he gets the news outlets ratings and those same outlets find Biden “boring.”
Neither the Trump campaign nor the White House provided comment on this story on Friday.
On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that during an Oval Office meeting earlier this month between Trump, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the president said he planned on running in 2024, if the 2020 election results were not nullified by Trump’s attorneys.
“If you do that—and I think I speak for everybody in the room—we’re with you 100 percent,” O’Brien told the president, according to the Bloomberg report.
The president’s efforts to game out different strategies for clinging to relevance and political influence come during a period in which the country is still ravaged by severe economic turmoil and sharply rising coronavirus death tolls. They also take place against the backdrop of one of the most tumultuous and bizarre transfers of powers in recent presidential history.
“It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede because we know there was massive fraud,” Trump told a reporter at the White House on Thursday.
Trump’s refusal to concede has been supplemented by an attempt to make it harder for Biden to reverse his policy achievements. Indeed, even before Election Day 2020, various Trump officials working in the administration were charting paths forward to make it harder for Biden to reenter the Iran nuclear agreement.
The official position of the White House, Trump campaign, and large swaths of the Republican Party’s centers of power is, however, that Trump won—and they’ve dedicated substantial resources and money to propping up this alternate reality. And they are doing this—and raising large sums of money for it—even as the vast majority of these senior officials know that the president’s legal blitz, fronted by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, is doomed and fueled by conspiracy theory.
Still, various Trump diehards aren’t giving up on the flailing fight—but are keeping their minds open about a 2024 run and how much they’d relish seeing a revival tour.
“I 100% believe Donald Trump will win this election in the end,” said Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO and Minnesota co-chair for Trump 2020. “But any day that we can have President Trump as our president is a blessing. So if that would happen, yes, I would fully support any opportunity for him to serve the American people for as many terms as possible.”