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Trump takes right-wing media tour but says it’s ‘too early’ to talk 2024

·White House Correspondent
·4 min read
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President Trump made the right-wing cable news rounds on Wednesday night, with appearances on three television networks: Newsmax, One America News Network, and Fox News. He began on Newsmax, where host Greg Kelly repeatedly pressed Trump on whether he might run for president again in 2024.

“As far as ’24, too early to say,” Trump responded.

Pressed multiple times on whether he would mount another run for the White House, Trump demurred.

“I won’t say yet,” Trump said.

Trump, who has largely been out of public view since his Jan. 6 rally in Washington, also cited a rally a few hundred supporters held for him on Monday as evidence of the strength of “the whole MAGA movement.”

The interviews were ostensibly about conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who died on Wednesday. Trump also called into Fox News to address the broadcaster’s death on Wednesday afternoon.

Limbaugh had been a vocal Trump supporter, and appeared with the real estate mogul multiple times during his run for president in 2016. Trump awarded Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his State of the Union address in February 2020.

On Newsmax, Trump repeatedly praised Limbaugh as an unparalleled radio talent and “a great guy,” but he also used the 20-minute conversation to take shots at politicians from both parties, and to make several false claims about his loss to Joe Biden in last year’s presidential election. The former president simultaneously appeared on OANN, where he said that Limbaugh also believed Trump was “robbed” in the campaign. Trump is due to close out the evening with an appearance on Fox News.

President Joe Biden talks during a televised town hall event at Pabst Theater, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Joe Biden at a town hall event in Milwaukee on Tuesday. (Evan Vucci/AP)

In the past week, Biden has criticized Trump for providing bad information about the status of the country’s supply COVID-19 vaccines. On Newsmax, Trump suggested Biden was pretending there were “no vaccines” and defended his handling of the vaccine rollout.

“We were giving millions of shots and millions of doses, so he was either not telling the truth or he’s mentally gone,” Trump said of Biden.

The White House declined to comment on Trump’s appearances. Biden’s administration has said the number of doses sent to states each week has gone up 57 percent since he took office on Jan. 20.

Once a constant presence on cable news and social media, Trump has kept a low public profile since Biden’s inauguration. Last month, he was de-platformed by major social media companies in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Both Facebook and Twitter cited the risk of further violence. In the weeks leading up to the attack, Trump used his public perch to spread baseless conspiracy theories about Biden’s victory. He also urged supporters to fight the transfer of power, including in a fiery rally speech held on the national mall just before the Capitol attack. Trump repeated his false claims about the election on Newsmax.

“Really bad and dishonest things happened,” Trump said of the vote. “It’s a disgrace. It’s like a Third World country with the elections.”

Officials from both parties and experts have all declared there was no credible evidence of fraud in conjunction with last year’s election. Newsmax, which is openly supportive of Trump, had previously echoed his conspiracy theories about the vote. However, in December the network clarified its coverage amid the threat of defamation lawsuits from a voting software company. Since then, guests have been cut off from making false claims about the election on the channel.

Donald Trump
Trump boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Jan. 20. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Trump’s interview with Newsmax was not broadcast live, and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy did not respond to questions about whether the conversation was pre-taped to prevent Trump from making false allegations about specific software companies. Greg Kelly, the host who interviewed the former president, was unresponsive whenever Trump made comments questioning the vote.

On Newsmax, Trump addressed his diminished media footprint, suggesting that he is “looking at a lot of different things,” including joining different sites or starting one of his own.

“We’re negotiating with a number of people and there’s also the other option of building your own site,” Trump said, adding, “It’s become very boring. We don’t want to go back to Twitter.”

Since leaving the White House, his public presence has largely been limited to emailed statements. On Tuesday, he released a 600-word diatribe blasting Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had penned a Wall Street Journal editorial blaming Trump for the Capitol attack.

Kelly asked Trump on Wednesday if he was interested in following Limbaugh’s footsteps on talk radio. Trump coyly called the idea “one of those little things that keeps popping up,” but indicated it would be hard to replace Limbaugh.

“A lot of people are mentioning that, and no, it’s not anything that I’ve thought about. He’d be a hard one to replace,” Trump said of Limbaugh. “I’d say he’s irreplaceable.”

Trump was far more direct when Kelly asked if he missed being president.

“I do,” Trump said. “Everything was happening great. … It’s too bad.”

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