Former President Donald Trump implied he would be making another run for president as he prepares for his first major public event since leaving office.
“Next time I’m in the White House there will be no more dinners, at his request, with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. It will be all business!” Trump said in a statement Friday afternoon after Facebook announced that he would remain banned from the platform for at least two more years.
Earlier this week, the New York Times and National Review reported that Trump believes he will be reinstated to the White House in August when unofficial audits of the 2020 election are completed. The former president routinely and baselessly claims the election was stolen from him, but there is no mechanism by which he could return to the White House.
The belief that the election was somehow “rigged” in favor of Joe Biden sparked the violence on Jan. 6 at the Capitol and is shared by many in the Republican Party. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released last week found that 64 percent of Republicans believe the 2020 election was “rigged and stolen from Trump,” a finding that is in line with other surveys that have found a majority of GOP respondents saying Trump is the true president.
Trump has been a vocal cheerleader of the much-maligned and controversial audit in Arizona, which has been criticized by a number of local Republicans in addition to top Democrats. On Friday, Trump called for another investigation into the results in Pennsylvania. He lost both states in November, and there is no evidence of fraud in either case.
The Republican Party has circled the wagons around Trump, ousting Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., last month from the GOP’s House leadership for speaking out against him. Trump has repeatedly castigated Republican lawmakers critical of his claims and endorsed a primary challenger to Brad Raffensperger, the GOP secretary of state in Georgia who refused to overturn the results of the election there.
Trump’s comments come as he is set to speak at the North Carolina Republican state convention in Greenville Saturday night, where, despite the hope of some Republican officials, he seems likely to promote the conspiracy theory that the election was stolen from him.
“We are honored to welcome President Trump to our convention as the Republican Party launches our campaign to retake Congress and the Senate in the 2022 midterms,” NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley said in a statement.
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