Trump spent his first night as a private citizen ‘looking for lawyers for his impeachment trial’

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Outgoing US President Donald Trump waves after landing at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida - AFP
Outgoing US President Donald Trump waves after landing at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida – AFP

Donald Trump spent his first night as a private citizen settling into his new home at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he has reportedly already begun preparing for his upcoming impeachment hearing.

Mr Trump’s final engagement in Washington DC as president was attending his farewell at Joint Base Andrews in DC, which was attended only by some 250 of his most loyal aides and supporters. Notably absent were close White House aides and his own vice president Mike Pence.

The former president then left for Florida as President Joe Biden was being sworn in, where he received a much warmer welcome.

Supporters lined Mr Trump’s route to Mar-a-Lago, waving “Trump 2020” flags and signs reading “welcome home!”, while others screamed “I love you” as his motorcade drove past. Some still refused to accept the results of the election.

Supporters of Donald Trump gather along the route of his motorcade on Southern Boulevard as he arrives in Florida - AFPSupporters of Donald Trump gather along the route of his motorcade on Southern Boulevard as he arrives in Florida - AFP
Supporters of Donald Trump gather along the route of his motorcade on Southern Boulevard as he arrives in Florida – AFP

“I am almost in denial,” Willie Guardiola, who had rallied people along the route, told NBC. “I don’t want to believe that this could be his last day.”

Mr Trump was said to have been surrounded by family on his first night back in Florida, where he has spent considerable time over the last few decades. He was joined by his eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, his other son Eric and his wife Lara.

Notably absent were daughter Ivanka and husband Jared Kushner, who were not on the Air Force One flight from DC. It was not immediately clear where the family would spend the coming days and weeks, but the couple has purchased a plot of land near Palm Beach to be closer to the former president.

One of Mr Trump’s first calls as a private citizen was reportedly to Lindsey Graham, South Carolina senator and staunch ally, according to the Huffington Post. “He says this is probably the second nicest place other than the White House,” Mr Graham says Mr Trump said of his new full-time residence.

Tiffany Trump with her finance, Michael Boulos, top, and Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, bottom right, arrive at Palm Beach International Airport  - APTiffany Trump with her finance, Michael Boulos, top, and Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, bottom right, arrive at Palm Beach International Airport  - AP
Tiffany Trump with her finance, Michael Boulos, top, and Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, bottom right, arrive at Palm Beach International Airport – AP

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary said Mr Trump was now “looking for some lawyers” for his impending impeachment trial. “He’s trying to put together a team,” Mr Graham told reporters.

Mr Trump will not be drawing on his usual litigators: Rudy Giuliani, his longtime personal lawyer, has stepped aside as he could be called as a witness in the case, while attorneys who represented him at the first impeachment hearing have reportedly declined.

He will likely spend the coming days preparing for any Senate trial, which could start as early as next week.

Mr Trump will of course no longer have access to White House staff who will now be working under the new administration, but he will still enjoy protection from the US Secret Service.

Before leaving office former President Trump ensured that his extended family would receive protection for the next six months, according to reports. The Secret Service will protect Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, along with their three children; Donald Trump Jr. and his five children; Eric Trump and wife Lara; and Tiffany Trump.

Palm Beach will become Donald Trump's new home - APPalm Beach will become Donald Trump's new home - AP
Palm Beach will become Donald Trump’s new home – AP

The arrangement will come at no cost to the Trump family and is funded by taxpayers, the Washington Post reported.

His inner circle of confidences has narrowed significantly since Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6. If indicted in the Senate, Mr Trump will face a ban on ever holding office again.

It would put an end to his purported to plans he has to form a party, known as the Patriot Party, to continue his political career from Palm Beach.

“Isolated and shunned at the end,” tweeted Maggie Haberman, who has been covering the Trump presidency for the NYT for the last four years. “The former president will be waking up to a very different reality at Mar-a-Lago, with no extensive government-funded staff, no aide following him with a diet coke, and no guarantee people will return his calls.”

There does, however, remain a few loyal lieutenants who continue to stand by him.

Jenna Ellis, the attorney who represented Mr Trump in a number of his election lawsuits, responded to Ns Haberman by saying: “He is neither isolated nor shunned. The beltway isn’t all of America. America by and large loves Donald Trump.”