The Jan. 6 committee’s public hearings have led to a slew of bad headlines for Donald Trump. Most recently, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson’s explosive testimony detailed the former president’s alleged attempt to seize the wheel from his security detail to attend the insurrection, as well as a lunch-throwing meltdown over the Justice Department’s failure to find election-altering fraud in the 2020 election. And now, Trump apparently thinks the best way to distract from the narrative of his undemocratic attempt to remain president is to make an earlier-than-expected announcement of his intention to run for the third time. The former president “has accelerated his planning in recent weeks just as a pair of investigations”—by the House select committee, and within the Justice Department—“have intensified and congressional testimony has revealed new details” about his attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss, the New York Times reported Friday. Trump “recently surprised some advisers by saying he might declare his candidacy on social media without warning even his own team,” according to the Times, “and aides are scrambling to build out basic campaign infrastructure in time for an announcement as early as this month.” The possibility of a summer announcement was bolstered by subsequent CNN and CBS reports. “Every day is different. We get told he’s going to announce imminently, and by the afternoon that has changed,” one source told CNN.
Some Republicans fear Trump announcing a 2024 bid before November’s midterms could distract from GOP messaging and give Democrats the opportunity to turn 2022 into a “referendum” on the former president, both the Times and CBS report. Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel urged Trump to wait until after the midterms but has “recently resigned herself to the idea” that he will not, according to the Times. Meanwhile, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is reportedly among those advocating for an early Trump announcement.
Directing attention away from the Jan. 6 hearings isn’t the only motivation for Trump to enter the race early: the former president is also eager to “clear the field and dare other people to run against him,” a source told CNN. Yet a number of Trump allies and appointees seen as potential 2024 hopefuls don’t seem too concerned on that front, NBC News reports, with former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and South Dakota governor Kristi Noem laying the groundwork for a bid in respective ads last week. Also last week, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley said she would run for president in 2024 “if there’s a place for me.” On Sunday, Noem—who received Trump’s endorsement for governor earlier this year and won her midterm primary last month—told CNN she would support Trump if he runs in 2024 but wouldn’t say whether she’d want to be his vice president, noting she “would be shocked if he asked” and is currently “just so focused on South Dakota.” And Pompeo, who last year told Trump he wouldn’t run against him for the presidential nomination, “has told others that he can beat Mr. Trump in the Iowa caucuses,” the Times reported Friday. “The fear factor is gone for a lot of consultants and some politicians who otherwise were worried about crossing him,” a GOP consultant told CBS. Florida governor Ron DeSantis has dismissed speculation of a 2024 run but looms largest among potential Trump rivals, and appears to be reaping the benefits of the Jan. 6 committee’s damaging findings about the former president. A recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that in a hypothetical head-to-head contest between Trump and DeSantis, the Florida governor was only nine percentage points behind Trump—“the only single-digit gap between the two potential rivals in any major national survey to date,” according to Yahoo.
Rep. Liz Cheney, the vice chairwoman of the Jan. 6 committee and one of few Republicans vocal about the party’s need to get rid of Trump, is also leaving the door open for a potential presidential run. “I haven’t made a decision about that yet,” Cheney told ABC News on Sunday when asked if she’s considering running for president. Right now, Cheney said, she is focused on her reelection in Wyoming and working on the Jan. 6 committee. “I’ll make a decision about ‘24 down the road. But I think about it less in terms of a decision about running for office and more in terms of, you know, as an American and as somebody who’s in a position of public trust now,” she told ABC’s Jon Karl.