Six hundred and seventy-eight days after he inspired arguably the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history and almost single-handedly destroyed American democracy, Donald J. Trump formally announced that he’s running for president.
The twice-impeached former president made the announcement ostensibly at the scene of one of his more recent alleged crimes.
With a gaggle of American flags hanging in the background and dozens of family members and supporters looking on, Trump declared his 2024 candidacy at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida compound.
“Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and my fellow citizens, America’s comeback starts now,” Trump told his cheering faithful.
With Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis seen as the early favorite to win the 2024 GOP nomination, Trump took a bow for “all the promises I’ve kept.”
However, most observers have noted that a border wall on the southern U.S. border never occurred and Mexico, as Trump famously promised, never paid for such a project.
While in office, Trump never released his tax returns and a health care plan that he continually promised would usurp Obamacare never happened.
In August, authorities searched the Mar-a-Lago residence and reportedly retrieved masses of classified federal documents that he allegedly and illegally removed from the White House after Joe Biden’s resounding victory over Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump’s announcement comes even as several investigations continue.
Earlier in the day, Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, testified in a criminal tax fraud case that Trump himself “authorized” the scheme.
Weisselberg, 75, added that Trump knew compensation for executives included perks such as apartments and luxury cars instead of extra salary.
In April 2021, Weisselberg and the company were both indicted. Authorities haven’t charged Trump with any wrongdoing.
In August 2022, New York Attorney General Letitia James alleged in a civil suit that Trump and three of his adult children engaged in a decade’s worth of fraud, inflating Trump’s net worth by billions of dollars.
“Our investigation uncovered the fact that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization engaged in significant fraud to inflate his personal net worth by billions of dollars to enrich himself and cheat the system illegally,” James stated.
“Since we filed this sweeping lawsuit last month, Donald Trump and the Trump Organization have continued those same fraudulent practices and taken measures to evade responsibility. So today, we are seeking an immediate stop to these actions because Mr. Trump should not get to play by different rules.”
Last week, reports again surfaced that Trump appeared at “substantial risk” of criminal prosecution over his efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia.
According to an October 2022 report from the Brookings Institution, which based its findings on “publicly available evidence,” Trump and his supporters could face several election-related criminal charges in Fulton County.
“This is not a game at all,” Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said earlier this year.
“What I am doing is very serious. It’s very important work. And we’re going to do our due diligence and make sure that we look at all aspects of the case,” Willis said.
Meanwhile, the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has also subpoenaed Trump, who has thus far ignored the inquest.
Still, committee leaders expect to hand their findings over to the federal prosecutors next month, and Trump could face charges that include inciting a riot and possibly treason.
Five people, including two police officers, died during or just after the insurrection, which featured an angry mob of Trump supporters attacking the U.S. Capitol.
The mob, many of whom left a Trump rally and heard the then-lame duck president urge them on. Insurrectionists sought out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence in particular, even threatening to hang Pence.
Ahead of Trump’s announcement, Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline circulated a letter to his caucus urging his colleagues to support legislation barring the former president from running for office.
Cicilline cited the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
“The language in our Constitution clearly intended to bar insurrectionists from holding high office in the United States,” Cicilline cited in the letter first reported by Politico’s Nicholas Wu.
“Given the proof – demonstrated through the January 6 Committee hearings, the 2021 impeachment trial, and other reporting – that Donald Trump engaged in an insurrection on January 6 with the intention of overturning the lawful 2020 election results, I have drafted legislation that would prevent Donald Trump from holding public office again.”
Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney appeared on national television encouraging his party to move on from Trump.
“It’s like the aging pitcher who keeps losing games,” Romney said.
“If we want to win, we need a different pitcher on the mound. And, I know there are some fans that love him, but it’s time for him to get off the mound.”