Former President Donald Trump repeated familiar lies about the 2020 election and insulted Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Saturday when speaking to Republican National Committee donors gathered for the first time since Trump's defeat, a person in the room told CNN.
Donors assembled just down the road from his Mar-a-Lago home — a sign that the institutions of the party remain centered around the former President as it looks to regain power in 2022.
The bulk of the RNC's spring retreat took place a 10-minute drive south of Trump's club, at Palm Beach's Four Seasons resort. There, around 360 donors mingled poolside at the beachfront hotel with Republican officials, including chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and co-chair Tommy Hicks. But on Saturday night, guests were shuttled up the road to Mar-a-Lago, where Trump addressed the retreat behind closed doors.
Trump went through an extensive recounting of debunked claims the election was stolen from him, including detailed complaints about individual states, and insisted the results were rigged, the person in the room said. In addition to insulting the Republican Senate leader — which received huge applause — the former President was highly critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci and once again took aim at former Vice President Mike Pence, whom he said had failed him in certifying the Electoral College results, according to the same person in the room.
The former President spoke generally about party unity, lamenting that Republicans don't stick together as well as Democrats, the person said.
But McConnell, who has blamed Trump for the January 6 insurrection, and Trump are already on opposite sides of at least one Senate primary contest, with Trump pledging to campaign against Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowksi, who has been endorsed by a powerful McConnell-aligned group.
Trump pledged his commitment to the Republican Party to help it win majorities in the House and Senate in 2022, according to a person close to him. "And then, in 2024, a Republican candidate is going to win the White House," Trump would say, according to prepared remarks obtained by CNN.
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