President Donald Trump talked during a Christmas reception at the White House on Tuesday about spending four more years in office – whether that starts in January 2021 or January 2025, according to a source familiar with his comments.
“It’s been an amazing four years,” Trump told the room, filled with many people not wearing masks despite public health officials’ guidance amid the Covid-19 pandemic. “We are trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”
Trump again wrongly insisted he had won the election, saying, “But they don’t like that.” He also asked if people were watching the “fraud hearings” with his legal team – referring to the events his attorney Rudy Giuliani has held with state legislatures in an attempt to challenge the results of the election.
“Honestly, this is a disgrace,” Trump told the room.
Trump White House
The President addressed guests from the White House’s grand staircase. Though several people were wearing masks, many were not and some were audibly coughing.
Trump lost his bid for a second term last month, but has yet to concede to President-elect Joe Biden – even though his administration has allowed the official presidential transition to begin.
A Trump campaign adviser told CNN there have been discussions about a potential event on Trump’s future plans. That event could be scheduled around Inauguration Day, the adviser said.
Trump is expected to hint at a run for 2024, leaving the door open to a comeback campaign.
It’s been noted inside Trump’s circle of advisers that he maintains an incredible grip on the Republican Party as GOP lawmakers have been hesitant to recognize Biden as the President-elect. “Never seen anything like it,” the adviser told CNN.
CNN reported last month that people in Trump’s orbit have said they expect the President to tease a 2024 run when he does finally acknowledge the results. Those sources said they expect him to dismiss the 2020 race as fraudulent, while hinting that he’s running again in four years.
The possibility that Trump might run again could create an uncomfortable scenario for those who currently surround him and politically support him – given that the vice president, secretary of state, former UN ambassador and a slew of others are all said to be weighing their own presidential runs.
But as Trump publicly denies he lost the election while continuing to push his legal challenges, he sees the scoreboard and understands he has no chance of hanging on to the presidency, two White House advisers told CNN on Monday.
Asked whether the President realizes that he’s been defeated, a close adviser who has been in contact with Trump about his legal strategy said Monday: “Yes, he does.” That adviser also said Trump will continue to pursue legal challenges until they are exhausted, but they pointed to the election certification Monday in Wisconsin and said, “The writing is on the wall.”
In an interview on Sunday, Trump declined to offer a timeline for when he might ease up his losing battle to overturn the election results. And he admitted that even if Biden enters office, he will remain unconvinced he lost.
Still, one person familiar with the situation said they believe Trump’s advisers will strongly encourage him to attend the January 20 inauguration, even if he doesn’t concede the election, because it would better preserve his potential influence going forward – including if he decides to run again in 2024 – if he doesn’t appear like a sore loser.
Trump told reporters last week that he’d already decided what he was doing on Inauguration Day. “I’ll be honest, I know the answer, but I just don’t want to say it yet,” he said. But aides viewed that as more of a way to put off the question, and did not take it to mean a decision had been made.
CNN’s Devan Cole, Kevin Liptak and Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.