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Former President Donald Trump and former first lady Melania Trump. Andrew Harnik
difficult 2024 path

Donald Trump's third White House run is littered with new obstacles of his own making

The former president faces several legal battles, as well as stiff competition from fellow Republicans.

DONALD TRUMP LAST night announced his third presidential bid and proclaimed that he will “make America great and glorious again”.

But the announcement from his Mar-a-Lago estate comes on the back of disappointing midterm election results, particularly for Trump-backed candidates.

Trump is also facing multiple legal issues and is currently being investigated for his role in the 6 January attack on the US Capitol.

His daughter Ivanka, a senior advisor during his presidential term, has also ruled herself out of involvement in the 2024 campaign.

Just how difficult is the road ahead for Trump in his bid to be elected for two non-consecutive terms.

Capitol Assault

On 6 January, 2021, thousands of people gathered in Washington to protest the result of the 2020 presidential election, which they claimed was rigged.

In a fiery speech near the White House on that day, Trump urged his supporters to “fight like hell”.

Protesters swarmed the Capitol building and one protester was shot dead by police.

More than 100 police officers were injured and four officers died by suicide in the months following the incident. 

A series of explosive hearings by the House of Representatives panel probing the attack has offered a roadmap for potentially charging the ex-president with a crime.

The lawmakers leading the hearings presented their case that Trump knew he lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, yet pressed his claims of fraud and ultimately brought his supporters to Washington for a rally that ended with a violent assault on Congress.

trump-supporters-storm-us-capitol Rioters at the Capitol on 6 January 2021. Lev Radin / ZUMA Wire Lev Radin / ZUMA Wire / ZUMA Wire

The House select committee also uncovered evidence of alleged misconduct by Trump leading up to the insurrection, including his attempt to co-opt government departments into his bid to overturn the election.

This has led to a separate investigation for pressuring officials in the swing state of Georgia to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory – including a taped phone call in which he asked the secretary of state to “find” enough votes to reverse the result.

Besides the legal ramifications, an unprecedented prosecution of a former president would likely cause a political earthquake in a country already starkly divided along partisan Democratic and Republican lines.

Such upheaval would be even greater in the context of  Trump re-election bid, especially if he were the Republican nominee.

Mar-a-Lago Raid

An FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in August turned up classified documents taken to his estate when he left office in January 2021.

The raid was triggered by a review of classified records that Trump finally surrendered to authorities in January this year – after months of back and forth with the National Archives.

The Justice Department began investigating after the 15 boxes were found to contain national defence information, including 184 documents marked as confidential, secret or top secret.

The FBI, in the affidavit used to justify the raid, said it was conducting a criminal investigation into “improper removal and storage of classified information” and “unlawful concealment of government records.”

The search warrant said the probe was also related to “willful retention of national defence information,” an offense that falls under the Espionage Act, and potential “obstruction of a federal investigation.”

Former ties

Key figures during Trump’s reign as president have also been distancing themselves from him.

His eldest daughter Ivanka was a senior advisor to her father’s administration.

She was also the director of the Office of Economic Initiatives and Entrepreneurship.

However, she has ruled herself out of any involvement in Trump’s 2024 bid.

Taking to social media, Ivanka Trump wrote: “I love my father very much. This time around, I am choosing to prioritise my young children and the private life we are creating as a family.

“I do not plan to be involved in politics. While I will always love and support my father, going forward I will do so outside the political arena.”

Meanwhile Mike Pence, who was vice-president to Trump, has further distanced himself from the former president and said he “endangered” Americans before the Capitol assault.

“The president’s words that day at the rally (before the riot) endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol,” Pence told ABC News.

Pence said he was “angered” when he read a Trump tweet on the day of the Capitol assault asserting that the then-vice president “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done” to keep Trump in office by blocking Congress’s certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

“I turned to my daughter, who was standing nearby, and I said, ‘It doesn’t take courage to break the law. It takes courage to uphold the law,’” Pence told the network.

Pence reportedly is laying the groundwork for his own presidential run in 2024.

GOP competition

Alongside Pence, Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis is another Republican who is said to be eyeing up a 2024 bid to be the GOP’s nominee.

While the predicted Republican “red wave” failed to materialize in the recent midterm elections, and Democrats maintained their control of the Senate, DeSantis won a resounding re-election on 8 November.

However, many Trump-backed candidates failed in their election bids.

Meanwhile, in the still-undecided House, Republicans seem likely to eke out only a razor-thin majority.

The results have emboldened Trump’s Republican detractors and sapped most of his political momentum heading into his campaign launch.

The 44-year-old DeSantis has been dubbed “Ron DeSanctimonious” by Trump, but he urged “people to go check out the scoreboard” from the midterms.

Meanwhile, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a vocal Trump critic, told CNN on Sunday: “It’s basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race, and it’s like, three strikes and you’re out.”

Trump’s response has been to double down on unfounded claims of ballot rigging in the midterms, posting on his Truth Social platform that the results were a “scam”.

Social Media

Trump launched Truth Social in February in an attempt to provide an “uncensored” alternative to Twitter and Facebook, two platforms he was been banned from following the Capitol assault.

While Trump has 4.6 million followers on Truth Social, it’s a fraction of the 86 million followers he once had on Twitter.

And while Trump says “Twitter is now in sane hands” following its sale to Elon Musk, he has suggested he would be happier sticking with his own Truth Social platform.

A return to Twitter could impact his 2024 campaign, giving Trump a broader audience for his posts.

Earlier this month, Musk tweeted: “”Twitter will not allow anyone who was de-platformed for violating Twitter rules back on platform until we have a clear process for doing so, which will take at least a few more weeks,” he tweeted. 

Drain the swamp

When Trump ran for president in 2016, he did so without any political experience. 

He promised to “drain the swamp” around Washington DC of lobbyists and relied on his political outsider status to do so.

When running against Hillary Clinton, this was an position he could sell.

It will be more difficult to convince voters that he is an outsider when he is running as a former POTUS. 

Meanwhile, Trump will be 78 in 2024. 

A New York Time polls in July found that most Democratic party voters don’t want Joe Biden to run for re-election in 2024

Biden has since said it will be a “family decision” as to whether he runs for a second term in office as president.

At 79, Biden is already the oldest president in American history, and concerns about his age are top of the list for Democratic voters who want a 2024 alternative.

Similar concerns might be on the minds of Republican voters when deciding who they wish to be their party’s presidential nominee. 

With additional reporting from AFP  

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