Michael C. Bender
A campaign-style video that former President Donald J. Trump posted on his social media site this week has prompted fact-checks and a new round of speculation about whether he is on the verge of announcing a third bid for the White House.
The back story is a little more complicated.
The nearly four-minute, highly produced video leaves viewers with a feeling of anticipation, which was probably by design: The footage was used to help introduce Mr. Trump before his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas last weekend.
The video was compiled by staff members on Mr. Trump’s Save America political action committee and started to take on its own life when the former president posted it on Truth Social after midnight on Tuesday. Just hours earlier, the F.B.I. had searched his Florida home.
Relying mostly on footage from a rally Mr. Trump held last month in Alaska, the video features his America-in-decline message that has become mostly standard boilerplate in his speeches and rallies. That portion of his addresses has the effect of both criticizing the current administration and positioning Mr. Trump — an increasingly likely presidential candidate — as someone who can deliver the rescue.
The release of the video also came in the backstretch of a midterm campaign dominated by Mr. Trump’s efforts to oust Republicans who have crossed him, and in which an embrace of his election lies has become a litmus test in a number of G.O.P. primaries.
As to when Mr. Trump might announce a 2024 campaign, there is some new disagreement among his inner circle about when he should do so. While some on his team were eager for him to fly down to Mar-a-Lago this week and begin his bid in the wake of the F.B.I. search, others view the recent legal developments as reason to hold off.
Mr. Trump has considered an early announcement, at least partly in order to scare off any other high-profile Republican challengers.
But the F.B.I. search had the effect of uniting the party behind him. Fox News, which hadn’t interviewed Mr. Trump in months, has featured extensive coverage of the search, and Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and former Vice President Mike Pence — both viewed as potential rivals in 2024 — each offered supportive statements of the president.
As with all things Trump, the only certain answer is to wait and see.
For now, though, it’s already shaping up as a busy week for the former president: The F.B.I. has searched his home; a federal appeals court upheld a request to turn over his federal income tax returns to Congress; and, on Wednesday, he invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to questions from the New York attorney general at a scheduled deposition.
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