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A Quiet Life Out of the Spotlight? Not for This Former President


He was widely hailed on the first day of the CPAC convention Friday.

“Let me tell you right now,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said, “Donald J. Trump ain’t goin’ anywhere.” Even Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader who at one point let it be known that he might vote to convict Mr. Trump in his second impeachment trial, told Fox News this week that he would support Mr. Trump if he were to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024.

To that end, Mr. Trump is serious at the moment about running for president a third time in 2024. While some aides expect that he ultimately won’t go through with another bid, his musings could have a chilling effect on his party.

“There was never a consideration of, Should George H.W. Bush run again?” said Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the conference. Mr. Trump is “in a different place, and he’s also still incredibly popular with the people who voted for him.”

Mr. Trump has discussed with aides the possibility of writing a book. And he has started putting together a political operation with long-serving aides including Bill Stepien, the campaign manager at the end of 2020; Justin Clark, the counsel on his campaign; and Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, his former campaign manager and deputy campaign manager. Brad Parscale, who was removed as the 2020 campaign manager last summer, remains in the Trump circle and is handling Mr. Trump’s email system.

Jason Miller, Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, remains close to him. And Mr. Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is set to take a more active role in his political organization than he previously had.

Most members of that group had an hourslong meeting on Thursday with Mr. Trump, for whom few former aides are ever permanently cast aside.

The former president is setting up a process for people looking to receive his endorsement, but he has made it clear that he is also determined to extract vengeance against Republicans who crossed him by questioning his lies about the election or by voting in support of impeachment. On Friday, he endorsed a former aide, Max Miller, as a primary challenger to Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who voted in favor of impeachment.

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