Trump to make first post-presidency speech at right-wing conference as he keeps grip on GOP
- Former President Donald Trump is expected to deliver a keynote speech to close out the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, next weekend.
- The event would be Trump's first extended, public appearance since leaving office last month.
- Trump said he plans to back primary contenders who support his "Make America Great Again" agenda.
- He faces several serious criminal and civil probes, at least one of which could land him in jail if convicted.
Former President Donald Trump is expected to deliver a keynote speech to close out the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, next weekend, sources familiar with the plans told NBC News.
Trump is expected to speak about the future of the Republican Party and conservative movement, sources familiar with the plan say.
The full lineup has not yet been announced and is subject to change.
The event would be Trump's first extended, public, on-camera appearance since leaving office last month.
In recent weeks, Trump has continued to rage at top Republicans who push back against him, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell; Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate; and longtime GOP political operative Karl Rove, according to people familiar with the matter.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller responded to CNBC's request for comment on the matter by emailing: "Fake news. We're focused on winning back the House and Senate in 2022."
The former president said he plans to back several primary contenders who support his "Make America Great Again" agenda.
Advisors have told Trump that Republican voters don't want to see an all-out war in the GOP, according to his own strategists. Instead, voters would rather see Trump focus his attacks on Biden and top Democrats, advisors say.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., a defender of Trump in Congress, tweeted that Republicans will be rejected by the base of the party if they don't embrace the former president's agenda.
Meanwhile, though Trump avoided conviction at his second impeachment trial, he now faces several serious criminal and civil probes that could be harder to beat. At least one investigation carries the potential for Trump to be sent to jail if convicted. As of Jan. 20, he lost the protection from prosecution by holding the office of president.
"There's a lot of balls up in the air in the potential criminal arena, and if I were Donald Trump, I would not be resting easy," said Joseph Tacopina, a leading criminal defense attorney in New York City.
Trump spoke at CPAC several times during his presidency, often delivering some of his longest speeches, and used his remarks to energize his conservative base.
Organizers of the event last year were criticized for their Covid-19 screening precautions after a New Jersey man who attended CPAC tested positive for the coronavirus.
This year's event will run from Thursday, Feb. 25 to Sunday Feb. 28., with Trump expected to close out the weekend's events.
— CNBC's Dan Mangan and Brian Schwartz contributed to this report
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