Trump calls US 'cesspool' and hints at 2024 presidential run

Former president gave remarks on crime in his first trip to Washington since insurrection

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Former president Donald Trump returned to Washington on Tuesday to make his first public appearance in the US capital since his presidency ended in disgrace after his false claims to have won the 2020 election culminated in the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection.

Widely expected to announce plans to run again in 2024, Mr Trump returned to his favoured themes of American decline and illegal immigration, depicting the US as "going to hell".

"Coming in today for the first time since I left Washington, DC, it is not recognisable. What happened?" Mr Trump asked in his address at the America First Agenda Summit, hosted by the America First Policy Institute.

The non-profit is seen as an “administration in waiting” that could move in quickly should Mr Trump retake the White House in 2024.

Speaking a short walk away from where his supporters attacked police during the Capitol riot, Mr Trump said America is "now a cesspool of crime".

"Our country is going to hell, going to hell very fast," he said.

"We do have to do a great job in 2024," he said. "And I think we will do it."

Mr Trump continued to push his widely debunked claims that he won the 2020 election.

"I ran the first time [in 2016] and I won. Then I ran a second time and I did much better," he said. "We may just have to do it again."

The former president's return to Washington follows weeks of extraordinary hearings held by a US House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, where supporters of the former president stormed the building to halt the certification of the 2020 election results.

The Capitol insurrection followed a fiery speech given by Mr Trump in which he told his supporters to “fight like hell”.

Last week, the committee highlighted how Mr Trump reportedly refused to call off the violent mob and lobbied a Wisconsin state legislator to overturn his defeat in the state, The New York Times reported.

Mr Trump said the committee was made up of "political hacks and thugs."

As Mr Trump readies to shift his focus to the midterms, his potential 2024 rivals have taken steps to establish themselves as the party's policy drivers.

Former vice president Mike Pence laid out a “Freedom First” agenda on Monday in which he challenged conservatives to look towards the future.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, seen as Mr Trump's greatest threat to the party's nomination, recently hosted two Republican conventions in his state.

Beyond the two-day conference, the America First Policy Institute has been preparing the groundwork for a potential return to the White House to avoid the chaotic early days of Mr Trump's first administration, said the institute's director Brooke Rollins.

The think tank is one of several Trump-allied organisations that have continued to push his policy ideas since he left office.

Updated: July 26, 2022, 10:03 PM
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