> Trump returns to DC for first time since leaving office to make speech at policy summit

Trump returns to DC for first time since leaving office to make speech at policy summit

Trump’s return to Washington comes amid the congressional investigation of the January 6, 2021, insurrection triggered by his denial of the 2020 election results, and as the former President teases a third run for the White House in 2024.

Trump is set to speak Tuesday afternoon at the Marriott Marquis, where he’ll deliver the keynote speech at a summit hosted by a non-profit that could effectively turn into the engine of another Trump presidential campaign and policy platform.

“He’s still the leader of the America First movement,” Marc Lotter, the chief communications officer of the America First Policy Institute, said on CNN over the weekend.

“He is the biggest name. He’s the visionary behind many of the policies that got him elected to the White House,” Lotter said. “And when you look at what’s going on in America right now, so many people are clamoring for that kind of policy leadership back. They want cheap gas, growing paychecks, soaring stock markets and not what we have right now.”

Trump’s speech is expected to focus on “law and order,” according to Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich.

“President Trump sees a nation in decline that is driven, in part, by rising crime and communities becoming less safe under Democrat policies,” Budowich said. “His remarks will highlight the policy failures of Democrats, while laying out an America First vision for public safety that will surely be a defining issue during the midterms and beyond.”

Trump allies tell CNN they hope the former President will use the speech to look forward and focus on setting a Republican agenda ahead of the midterms. As Trump has publicly teased a 2024 bid, aides and advisers have encouraged him to move on from the 2020 election and shift focus to policy that they believe could put him back in office, like the economy, school curriculum and crime.

So far, Trump has yet to change course, instead using speeches to claim that the 2020 election was rigged, criticizing Republicans that he views as disloyal and attacking the Select Committee investigating January 6. One source close to Trump expressed frustration that the former President seemed unable to stop obsessing over the past, concerned it would hurt his chances in a 2024 presidential campaign.

Trump’s DC trip also underscores his dramatic split with former Vice President Mike Pence, who Trump has publicly blamed for refusing to attempt to overturn voters’ will by rejecting key states’ electoral votes.

Pence has pushed back, saying earlier this year that “Trump is wrong” in claiming that he could overturn the results. He has in recent speeches urged Republicans to drop their grievances over 2020 and offer a forward-looking platform. Pence had been scheduled to speak Monday at the Heritage Foundation in DC, but that speech was postponed after his flight was diverted due to weather.

Trump has used his recent speeches to continue airing those grievances over 2020. His appearances on the campaign trail ahead of November’s midterm elections have focused on endorsements of candidates who have embraced his election denialism and campaigned on efforts to undo the 2020 results and make voting more difficult for future elections.

His Tuesday speech at the America First Policy Institute’s summit will follow appearances by a host of Trump’s Republican allies, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, as well as some of Trump’s former White House and campaign aides, including Kellyanne Conway.

“To give voice to that agenda, to lay it out for the congressional midterms and beyond, I think there is nobody better than the former President to be able to do that,” Lotter said on CNN Sunday.

“What is going to happen next is entirely up to the voters and the President and any other people who might be getting into the race,” he said. “But the one thing that we know is the policies worked. And so, what we are focused on is setting that stage, laying out that policy framework, to get back to those winning policies. And President Trump is still one of the leaders, if not the biggest name, in that movement.”

CNN’s Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.

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