DONALD Trump has floated the idea of running for president again in 2024 at a holiday reception at the White House on Tuesday evening.
“It’s been an amazing four years,” Trump told the crowd, which included many Republican National Committee members. “We’re trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”
Trump’s comments appeared to acknowledge that he thought he could have lost the election. While speculation about a presidential run in 2024 has been rife, and many US politics watchers expect him to declare a bid soon, he has not spoken publicly about it before.
The video was streamed live on Facebook by one attendee of the party, Pam Pollard, who is national committee member for the Oklahoma GOP. The footage showed dozens of people crammed into the Cross Hall of the White House state floor, standing closely together. Many seen in the video were not wearing masks. Coughing could be heard.
Trump at the White House Christmas party: “It’s been an amazing four years. We’re trying to do another four years, otherwise I’ll see you in four years.”
The Trumps began hosting holiday receptions this week, intent on celebrating a final season before Trump leaves office on 20 January. Trump has not formally conceded, but belatedly allowed the transition to Biden to proceed.
According to social media postings reviewed by The Associated Press, the White House Christmas events have featured large crowds of often maskless attendees gathered indoors – violating the very public health guidance the US government has pressed the nation to follow this holiday season as cases of Covid-19 skyrocketed across the country.
The White House has been the site of at least one suspected Covid-19 super-spreader event, and dozens of the president’s aides, campaign staffers and allies have tested positive in numerous outbreaks. Trump himself was hospitalized for the virus in October, and the first lady and two of his sons have tested positive. Numerous others have had to quarantine.
Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman and chief of staff, had said last month that the White House would be moving forward with events, “while providing the safest environment possible.”
She said that would include smaller guest lists, that “masks will be required and available, social distancing encouraged while on the White House grounds, and hand sanitizer stations throughout the State Floor.”
“Attending the parties will be a very personal choice,” she added.
The video of Trump discussing the 2024 election emerged as he threatened to veto the $740bn National Defense Authorization Act unless it included a measure eliminating a federal law protecting tech companies such as Facebook and Twitter.
“If the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk,” Trump tweeted late on Tuesday.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects tech companies from liability over content posted by users, and has been under attack from Trump and Republican lawmakers, who have criticized internet platforms’ content moderation decisions and accused them of stifling conservative voices.
The sweeping NDAA sets policy for the Department of Defense. It has been passed for six decades, one of the few major pieces of legislation seen as a “must-pass” because it governs everything from pay raises for the troops to how many aircraft should be purchased or how best to compete with rivals like Russia and China.
Congressional aides expressed skepticism Trump would actually veto the legislation. Democrats won’t agree to repealing 230 because the 24-year-old law provides a vital protection to social media companies.