By JILL COLVIN
WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Donald Trump returned to Washington for the first time since leaving office on Tuesday, vigorously repeating his false campaign claims that sparked a riot near the Capitol on Jan. 6.
“This election was a disaster. Our country is disgraced,” he said, insisting despite all evidence that he had won in 2020. “We might have to do it again,” he said, repeating as he has in all recent appearances, always hinting that he will run again in 2024.
He drew frequent applause and cheers from his audience recently, a meeting organized by a group of former White House officials and cabinet members who are developing an agenda for a possible second Trump term. were
Trump’s appearance in the nation’s capital — his first since Jan. 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden took the oath of office despite Trump’s relentless efforts to stay in power — came as allies urged him to Given that they spend more time talking about their vision. The future and re-election in 2020 are minimal as he prepares to announce a potential 2024 White House campaign.
Trump spoke hours after outlining his “freedom agenda” in a speech near potential 2024 rival former Vice President Mike Pence.
As the former president revels in an election he falsely claims was stolen from him a year and a half ago, Pence once again urged conservatives to stop looking back and focus on the future. Focus as they reflect on their thinking.
“Some people may choose to focus on the past, but the election is about the future,” Pence said in a speech to the Young America Foundation, a conservative student group. “I think conservatives must focus on the future to win America back. We cannot afford to lose sight of the path ahead because what is at stake is the survival of our way of life.
Former White House aides were at it again Friday after campaigning for rival candidates in Arizona. Their separate speeches came amid news that Pence’s former chief of staff, Mark Short, testified before a federal grand jury investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
Short was at the Capitol the day Pence fled from an angry mob of rioters who called for his execution after Trump wrongly insisted Pence had the power to overturn the election results.
Pence repeatedly defended his actions that day, even as his decision to stand up to his boss turned Trump’s loyal base against him. Polls show that Trump is, by far, the top choice of GOP primary voters, with Pence close behind.
The contrast was on display Tuesday when Trump addressed an audience of hundreds gathered for the America First Policy Institute’s two-day America First Agenda Summit. The group, made up of former Trump administration officials and allies, is widely seen as an “administration in management” that could quickly move into the West Wing if Trump were to run again and win.
The event had the feel of a Trump White House reunion — but without Pence.
Pence, meanwhile, received a friendly – but not enthusiastic – welcome from the students, who chanted “USA!” I struggled to get in. shout
In his remarks, he repeatedly referred to the “Trump-Pence administration.” But his first question during a brief question-and-answer session was about his growing estrangement from Trump, especially given the years he spent as the former president’s most loyal sidekick. spent on
Pence denied the two had “differences on issues,” but acknowledged, “we may differ on the focus.”
“I really believe that the election is about the future and it’s absolutely necessary, at a time when so many Americans are hurting and so many families are struggling, that we look back,” he said. Don’t miss the temptation to watch,” he said. .
Also Tuesday, Simon & Schuster announced the title of Pence’s upcoming book, “So Help Me God,” which will be published in November. The publisher said the book, in part, “will chronicle President Trump’s severance of their relationship on January 6, 2021, when Pence took his oath of office to the Constitution.”
Trump has spent much of his time since leaving office spreading lies about his loss to cast doubt on Biden’s victory. Indeed, even as a House committee on January 6 refused to stop his efforts to remain in power and the violent mobs of his supporters as they tried to prevent a peaceful transition of power, Trump continued to press on. The effort continues. Officials overturned Biden’s win, despite having no legal means to make it uncertain.
Alabama Republican Tommy Tuberwell said he would be among several GOP senators attending Trump’s speech.
“You’re going to hear the same thing you hear in all the other speeches,” Tuberville told reporters at the Capitol. “But, you know, go out there and listen, as many of us would.”
Ahead of the summit, the America First Policy Institute is preparing for another possible Trump administration, “making sure that when we take back the White House, we have the policies, staff and The process is there,” its president said. , Brock Rollins.
The group is one of several Trump-allied organizations that have continued to advance his policies in his absence, including America First Legal, Joe Biden’s agenda on the judiciary, the Center for Renewing America and the Conservative Partnership Institute. Dedicated to fighting.
AP writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.