Politics

Trump is hosting the New Year’s party, capping a year of legal and political setbacks

PALM BEACH — Former President Donald Trump rang in the new year Saturday night with hundreds of Mar-a-Lago members and a few political cronies, capping off a year that saw several notable setbacks for the former president in both the legal and political worlds.

In recent years, Hollywood celebrities have attended Trump’s annual New Year’s Eve bash at the Palm Beach club. But this year, the most notable people who attended the lavish black-tie, long-gown gala were from the former president’s political circle, including pollster Dick Morris, legal counsel Rudy Giuliani and pillow maker Mike Lindell. All walked the red carpet but did not comment on Trump or their expectations for 2023.

Trump’s second-oldest son, Eric, and his wife, Lara, also attended. However, two other grown children did not figure prominently in Trump’s political endeavors, Donald, Jr., and daughter Ivanka, was at the event.

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Former President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, approach the Mar-A-Lago Ballroom on the New Year's Eve red carpet, Saturday, December 31, 2022, in Palm Beach, FL.

Former President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, approach the Mar-A-Lago Ballroom on the New Year’s Eve red carpet, Saturday, December 31, 2022, in Palm Beach, FL.

What did Trump say at the event?

Trump, who declared his candidacy for the White House in 2024 in November spoke briefly to the media as he and Melania Trump entered the ballroom.

Trump said he hoped the war between Russia and Ukraine “will be fixed very quickly” and said he is optimistic about his campaign going into 2023, adding that he had received some poll numbers, that looked “fantastic” but gave no details. He also sounded familiar themes.

“We need a strong border and we need it now,” he said, then added: “We also need to bring the economy back … with inflation destroying our country.”

But Trump notably avoided questions about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ call for an investigation into COVID vaccines, a key legacy of Trump’s single term in the White House, and whether he supported a national abortion ban. He also walked away from a question about how this week’s second anniversary of the Jan. 6 violence and the alleged coup attempt in the US capital should be observed.

What was the event like?

Former President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, approach the Mar-A-Lago Ballroom on the New Year's Eve red carpet, Saturday, December 31, 2022, in Palm Beach, FL.

Former President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, approach the Mar-A-Lago Ballroom on the New Year’s Eve red carpet, Saturday, December 31, 2022, in Palm Beach, FL.

Former President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, are seen inside the Mar-A-Lago Ballroom on New Year's Eve, Saturday, December 31, 2022, in Palm Beach, FL.

Former President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, are seen inside the Mar-A-Lago Ballroom on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, December 31, 2022, in Palm Beach, FL.

Former President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, stop to speak to the media at Mar-A-Lago on New Year's Eve, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Palm Beach, FL.

Former President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania Trump, stop to speak to the media at Mar-A-Lago on New Year’s Eve, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2022, in Palm Beach, FL.

What else is going on with Trump?

The festivities closed 2022, which for Trump ended with a series of significant setbacks and defeats.

The former president was blamed for the Republican Party’s failure to gain a majority in the US Senate, taking control of the US House with a thin and fragile majority and losing coveted governorships. Also a jury in New York convicted his company of tax fraud and other charges.

A week after launching his campaign, Trump hit the ground running a political firestorm by having dinner with Kanye West, now known as Ye, and a white supremacist Holocaust denier, Nick Fuentes. West has recently made a number of explicitly anti-Semitic remarks.

The House panel investigating the January violence concluded its work in late December by issuing a lengthy report, release of transcripts of his witness interviews − all in the wake of holding a series of televised hearings that proved deeply damaging to Trump during the second half of the year. Then, a separate House committee released Trump’s tax returns showing that he paid minimal taxes in the first and last years of his presidency.

Other investigations continue to swirl around Trump, including a Justice Department probe into why the former president kept government documents, including top-secret files, at Mar-a-Lago, and his efforts to pressure Georgia election officials to find him thousands of votes after the 2020 election.

How does Trump feel about voters heading into 2023?

A USA TODAY/Suffolk University poll released last month found that 61% of Republican voters polled said they wanted someone other than Trump to be the party’s nominee in 2024. And the other candidate is increasingly DeSantis, Trump’s former political ally, who outspent Trump by 56% to 33%.

Last week, Trump sparked talk of a third-party candidacy if he doesn’t win the GOP nomination next year by sharing an article on his Truth Social headlined “The Coming Split,” urging him to run for president as a non- Republicans.

Go deeper

Trump in trouble: Republican support for his 2024 bid is falling amid political, legal setbacks

Summary: What we know about the 6,000 pages of Trump tax returns, Republican responses and more

Read the Trump Tax PDFs: Donald Trump’s Tax Returns Released; see dozens of files here

January 6 transcripts: Ginni Thomas regrets election conspiracy texts, Proud Boys leader toured White House

Antonio Fins is politics and business editor at Palm Beach Pcheese, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him at [email protected]. Help support our journalism. Register today.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump’s New Year’s Eve party at Mar-a-Lago: Who was there

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