The task of launching a brand-new, viable third party is a monumental, heavy lift, and several of Trump’s closest advisers are unsure of how seriously to take his recent musings and flirtation. However, Trump has made clear that pure spite could easily factor into the decision-making, depending on how a Senate trial would end.
Trump has told some people close to him that if Republican lawmakers moved to bar him from holding office ever again—a potential outcome of the impeachment trial—he could make their lives miserable by helping to establish a new right-wing party that could siphon off Republican voters in elections, according to two individuals with knowledge of his private remarks in recent days. Trump has also this month discussed the prospects of supporting primary challengers and campaigning against elected Republicans who he feels were insufficiently loyal to him during his failed crusade to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
“They better not do this to me,” Trump uttered during some of the final moments of his presidency, according to one of the sources who heard him say it. The source added that the now-former president was also complaining about how dumb and shortsighted Republicans would have to be to betray and get rid of their most popular and—to Trump—most successful political figure.
It’s a scenario that some prominent Republicans actively fear could split the party and benefit their progressive adversaries.