Donald Trump is taking his show back on the road, and his team is operating as if he's still in the White House instead of getting impeached on the way out of his lone term and facing a slew of lawsuits and criminal investigations.
The ex-president has been fixated on election "audits" and other efforts aimed at overturning his loss, and he's resuming his beloved campaign rallies with an eye on vengeance but little interest at this point in wading into tough political fights, reported Politico.
"I think the president is smart to step back and not give any endorsements," said his former White House strategist Steve Bannon. "It's a bit Darwinian. Ohio right now is 'Lord of the Flies,' but I'm not saying that's a bad thing."
Trump hasn't endorsed anyone in Ohio's Republican Senate primary, but he's rallying Saturday near Cleveland for GOP congressional candidate Max Miller, who's challenging Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), who voted for the second impeachment.
"The fact that his first rally is targeting Max's campaign tells you a lot about where the focus is," said Taylor Budowich, a senior adviser to Miller's campaign. "[Gonzalez] didn't just betray President Trump but he betrayed his constituents."
Multiple aides told Politico they're happy Trump is going back on the road, but they say it's "uncharted territory" because he's not running for anything.
"It's part scratching the itch and part smart politicking," said one Trump adviser. "This is exactly how Donald Trump should wield his political power."
Until he actually enters the 2024 race, assuming he actually does, Trump's team is still portraying him as if he's still in the White House, with promotional material referring to him as the president and referring to the actual president, Joe Biden, by his name only."He's not running for anything in 2022 so he won't be on the ballot," said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who's running to replace Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). "I can't keep track of what they're doing over there. It's just culture war after culture war after culture war, and people don't want that."