Donald Trump will speak at a rally in Arizona on Saturday and is expected to revisit his unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election suffered from mass voter fraud.
It will be the former president’s first rally of 2022 and offers a potential preview of the role he could play in a crucial midterm election year.
But the former president is also facing pressure, with the ongoing investigation into January 6, 2021 and multiple lawsuits
Trump has also recently clashed with Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on the question of voter fraud in the last presidential election.
More Election Allegations
Trump issued a statement about the rally through his spokesperson Liz Harrington on Friday and appeared to indicate he would return to the idea the election had been “stolen” from him.
“Look forward to seeing everyone in Arizona tomorrow! Many topics will be discussed including the Rigged Presidential Election of 2020, the fake Big Lie, the corrupt LameStream Media, the Afghanistan disaster, Inflation, the sudden lack of respect for our Nation and its leaders, and much more,” the statement said.
“Big crowds, will also be covered on TV,” Trump promised.
The former president has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims about the 2020 election and Arizona has been a particular focus. Trump and some of his allies strongly supported a controversial election audit in the state’s Maricopa County.
That audit, published in September, ultimately did not find evidence that the election had suffered widespread fraud, but instead affirmed that President Joe Biden had won the state. The audit was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats.
Arizona also closed the book on the majority of outstanding voter fraud cases from 2020 this week and no criminal charges were filed.
It remains to be seen if the former president will make reference to the audit on Saturday.
Clashes With GOP Senators
Trump’s continued insistence that the last election suffered from fraud has led to recent clashes with Republican senators. Senator Mike Rounds told ABC News on January 9 that the last election was “fair, as fair as we have seen” and that the GOP “simply did not win.”
In response, Trump asked if Rounds was “crazy or just stupid.” His comments in turn led to responses from McConnell and Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), John Thune (R-SD) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), who all expressed support for Rounds.
Trump suggested in an interview with NPR on January 11 that McConnell was responsible for GOP senators not backing his fraud claims, calling the Kentucky Republican a “loser.”
Trump’s Role in 2022 Midterms
It is not clear at this stage if the recent clash indicates that the Republican Party is moving away from the so-called “Big Lie” of 2020 election fraud, but it appears that at least some senior elected officials do not want the 2020 election to be the focus of the 2022 midterms.
Nonetheless, Trump is set to play a major role in November’s elections and has already endorsed GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in Arizona. Lake has said she would not have certified the 2020 election. Trump has not yet endorsed a candidate in Arizona’s GOP Senate primary.
January 6 Attack Fallout
The former president is also facing pressure from several other directions.
The House of Representatives’ Select Committee investigating the events of January 6 is probing Trump’s actions on that day, seeking documents and testimony, most recently from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy who has refused to submit to interview.
The former president is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent the committee from accessing certain documents it has requested, citing executive privilege. Two lower courts had ruled in favor of the committee and the Supreme Court has not yet heard the case.
Lawsuits and Criminal Investigation
Trump is also involved in multiple lawsuits separate from the January 6 investigation, including litigation with his niece Mary Trump and a defamation suit from writer E. Jean Carroll.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is carrying out a criminal investigation of the Trump Organization and has subpoenaed the former president, along with his children Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has also been investigating the Trump Organization’s finances and charged the company in July, 2021 over an alleged 15-year scheme of tax fraud.
Trump may plan to use his Saturday rally to reaffirm his central role in the Republican Party and exert influence over the midterm elections but his ongoing focus on false claims of electoral fraud and apparently mounting legal issues may cast a pall over the event.