Trump Is Surrounded By Rivals And Questions As He Preps ‘BIG ANNOUNCEMENT’ At Mar-A-Lago

The fans are already lining up outside of Mar-a-Lago ahead of former President Trump’s “BIG ANNOUNCEMENT” scheduled for Tuesday evening. Trump is reportedly planning to kick off his 2024 White House bid at his private Florida beach club at 9 p.m. ET.

Based on photos posted on Instagram, some of the faithful are already lining up outside the compound’s pink walls including some waving “TRUMP 2024” flags and one of the self-described “Front Row Joes” who spend hours in line for prime placement at the former president’s rallies.

However, as is so often the case with Trump, the big event is bringing plenty of drama and questions to go along with the pomp and circumstance. 

Trump, who is still banned from Twitter, has touted the announcement in fundraising emails to supporters and on his own site, Truth Social. 

“I’m making a BIG ANNOUNCEMENT at Mar-a-Lago TODAY, which will be one of the greatest events in the history of America. This day will be remembered FOREVER, and I want YOU to be a part of it,” Trump said invoking Uncle Sam in an email that went out on Tuesday afternoon. He went on to ask followers to “HURRY and give $2 IMMEDIATELY.” 

Guests were invited to Mar-a-Lago via a form that touted an unspecified “special event” at the club, according to a document viewed by TPM. The event will serve as the launch of Trump’s 2024 campaign. According to a source familiar with the plans, Trump’s bid will be led by a triumvirate; Chris LaCivita, Susie Wiles and Brian Jack. That news was first reported by the Washington Post, which noted that the effort would be led by a trio rather than a “traditional campaign manager,”

The unconventional structure sets Trump’s nascent 2024 organization up to have competing power centers — a system not unfamiliar to Trump who famously operated his real estate business with rival factions. His prior campaigns and the Trump White House also featured opposing camps that made them hotbeds of infighting and high turnover. While Trump is reportedly opting for three relatively new faces at the top of his latest campaign, multiple sources confirmed he will still draw on the extensive network of former aides and advisers he has developed since launching his first White House bid in both informal and more formalized roles. According to a source familiar with the operation who requested anonymity to discuss the deliberations Boris Epshteyn will be a senior adviser and Steven Cheung is taking a senior communications role. Both Epshteyn and Cheung previously worked on the Trump campaign and in the White House.

In addition to the potential for wrangling behind the scenes, Trump’s announcement Tuesday comes as he faces mounting legal pressure and a growing crop of potential rivals. Trump is currently facing congressional and federal and state grand jury investigations focused on his role in the effort to subvert the 2020 election, a separate federal grand jury probe into his retention of classified materials (including some held at Mar-a-Lago) after his presidency, an ongoing criminal trial of his business in Manhattan, and an extensive civil lawsuit into his business practices by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.

The Republican National Committee has been covering some of Trump’s legal expenses, but earlier this month RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told CNN the party “cannot pay legal bills for any candidate that’s announced.” Of course, Trump has been a fundraising juggernaut and can likely make up the difference. In that same interview, McDaniel noted Trump has “certainly raised more” for the RNC than it had spent on his bills.

Trump’s move comes as other Republicans are rumored to be considering entering the 2024 fray including Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Nikki Haley, who was South Carolina governor and a member of Trump’s cabinet.

Some of those potential contenders already have Tuesday sideshows in the works. In a new book that came out on the day of Trump’s scheduled announcement, Pence attacks his former running mate for fomenting the Jan. 6 attack. DeSantis has a major speech of his own scheduled for Tuesday night. A spokesperson for the Florida governor did not respond to a request for comment about whether his speech was timed to rival Trump’s.

One veteran Republican operative who worked on multiple presidential campaigns, told TPM it seems clear the various potential candidates are gearing up for a fight. The operative requested anonymity since they have not made a choice about who they’ll back. 

“Thankfully, I don’t have to make that decision right now,” the operative said. “It would seem that all signs are pointing toward them going head to head.”

In the crowded field, the operative believes Trump has a clear advantage due to his core base among Republican voters. They predicted Trump will be able to consolidate enough support to win any potential primary unless his rivals get “behind one person.” 

“If you divide the support up among five or six people he will pick you off one at a time,” the operative said.

Stephanie Grisham, a former Trump White House press secretary and campaign aide who quit in the immediate aftermath of Jan. 6 and has since emerged as an outspoken Trump critic, suggested announcing a campaign at this juncture would help Trump with two of his major concerns. According to Grisham, the move could help him stay in the spotlight and attempt to paint the various investigations as political witch hunts. 

“He can’t stand not being the center of attention and undisputed head of the Republican Party,” Grisham said of Trump. “With the attention that DeSantis has been getting and Pence with his book, and the disastrous midterms where so many of his candidates lost, this is his only natural choice to try and put the focus on him and distract people from the bad. It’ll also make it easier for him to say all of these investigations are political because with Donald Trump that’s the playbook: deny, deflect, destroy.”

As far as what to expect when Trump takes the stage, one person in the former president’s circle of advisers said they are eager for a speech focused on the future rather than Trump’s past gripes and fights. However, the adviser, who requested anonymity to discuss these private deliberations, seemingly acknowledged those around the ex-president aren’t entirely sure Trump will be able to avoid including an airing of grievances in his announcement.

“It’s going to be Trump hopefully talking about tomorrow, not the past,” the adviser said. “That message has been delivered to him multiple times.”

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