Trump hints at third presidential run in first Washington visit since leaving office

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WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 26: Former President Donald Trump speaks at the American First Policy Institute's America First Policy Institute's America First Agenda summit at the Marriott Marquis on Tuesday, July 26, 2022 in Washington, DC.The non-profit think tank was formed last year by former cabinet members and top officials in the Trump administration to create platforms based on his policies. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)
Donald Trump speaks at the America First Policy Institute's summit in Washington. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Former President Trump hinted at a third presidential campaign Tuesday during a keynote speech at a policy summit held by former members of his administration, telling his supporters that efforts to impeach him and investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol are intended to hurt them.

"They want to damage you in any form, but they really want to damage me so I can no longer go back to work for you, and I don’t think that’s going to happen," he said to the crowd, which showed its support with chants of "four more years!"

Trump made the comments at the America First Policy Institute's summit in Washington, his first visit to the nation's capital since he left office in January 2021. The former president is thinking about announcing a third presidential campaign as soon as September, according to news reports.

Though Trump didn't make a formal announcement, he suggested throughout the speech that he doesn't plan to fade into political obscurity. Instead, he said he felt compelled to remain engaged despite what he called "persecution" from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

"If I stayed at home and just took it easy, the persecution of Donald Trump would stop immediately," he said. "But that’s not what I will do. ... I have to save our country."

During the speech, which started as a policy address on crime, Trump called the House Jan. 6 committee a group of "thugs" and "hacks," mocked Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), and repeated the false claim that he won the 2020 presidential election.

"I always say I ran the first time, and I won. And then I ran a second time, and I did much better," he said. "What a disgrace it was. But we may just have to do it again."

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.