By JILL COLVIN
WASHINGTON (AP) — In his first return to Washington since being ousted from the White House by Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump vigorously repeated the false claims of election fraud that sparked the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising. . Not far away, in a double-edged speech, his former vice president, Mike Pence, implored the Republican Party to move on from Trump’s defeat.
The separate appearances indicated a fierce rivalry between the one-time partners as both eyed a potential presidential race. And they starkly show the party’s split between Trump loyalists who refuse to accept the 2020 outcome and other Republicans who believe the party should focus on the future.
Federal and state election officials from both parties and Trump’s own attorney general have said there is no credible evidence the 2020 election was rigged. The former president’s allegations of fraud were also dismissed outright by the courts, including judges appointed by him.
But Trump continued to play down his loss as he appeared in the nation’s capital for the first time since Jan. 20, 2021, when President Joe Biden took the oath of office despite Trump’s fierce efforts to stay in office.
“This election was a disaster,” Trump declared about a mile from the White House he once called home. He spoke at a summit organized by a group of former White House officials and Cabinet members who are developing an agenda for a possible second Trump administration.
“We’re going to have to do it again,” Trump said, pointing to the 2024 presidential campaign he’s increasingly teasing.
Pence, once a loyal Trump vice president, spoke at a separate conference Tuesday morning where he outlined his “liberty agenda” and made his case for conservatives to stop looking backwards. Should.
“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.
Trump also said that the survival of America is in danger. In a speech focusing on public safety, he said the country was under serious threat from crime. Among his proposals, he called for executing drug dealers, sending homeless people to tent cities on the outskirts of towns and expanding his southwest border wall.
Biden — on Twitter — joined in — rejecting Trump’s claim to be a law-and-order president.
Referring to the capital riots, he tweeted, “I don’t think inciting a mob that attacks a police officer is ‘respect for the law.’ You are pro-insurgency and pro-police – or pro-democracy, or Can’t be pro-American.”
Trump spent a lot of time in his remarks airing his usual grievances.
“If I give up my beliefs, if I agree to remain silent, if I stay at home and take it easy, Donald Trump’s tyranny will stop immediately,” he said. “But I won’t do that.”
The duality comes as Trump’s potential rivals are increasingly brazen about directly criticizing the man who is a dominant force in the Republican Party. Former White House aides also campaigned for rival candidates in Arizona on Friday. And his Tuesday speeches came amid news that Pence’s former chief of staff, Mark Short, testified before a federal grand jury investigating the Jan. 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 of cheering supporters gathered for the America First Policy Institute’s two-day America First Agenda Summit. The group is widely seen as an “administration in waiting” that could quickly move into the West Wing if Trump runs again and wins.
The event had the feel of a Trump White House reunion — but without Pence.
Pence, meanwhile, received a friendly — but less 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. .
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.
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.
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.”