One source who speaks regularly with Trump told PEOPLE after he arrived in Florida: "He is not in a very good mood"

By Sean Neumann and Linda Marx
January 27, 2021 04:31 PM
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Whatever else happens next, Donald Trump has now followed in the footsteps of his predecessors and officially launched a post-White House project.

On Monday the former president announced he had opened an "office" in Florida that will manage announcements about and support his work going forward.

Further details were not released, beyond Trump offering an endorsement of ex-spokeswoman Sarah Sanders' gubernatorial campaign in Arkansas.

The office will manage Trump's "correspondence, public statements, appearances, and official activities" in order to advance his former administration's agenda and it will alert the media to any "advocacy, organizing, and public activism" involving the former president, according to Monday’s email blast to reporters.

Trump, 74, left the White House last week much as he entered it four years ago: breaking with tradition under a cloud of controversy. He and former First Lady Melania Trump flew to Florida early on Jan. 20, shortly before successor Joe Biden was sworn in, making him the first departing president in more than a century to skip an inauguration.

In the days since, Trump has largely remained out of the spotlight — instead golfing and spending time at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach as he prepares for his unprecedented second impeachment trial in the Senate next month, following the deadly U.S. Capitol insurrection by his supporters.

Monday's announcement of Trump's "Office of the Former President" is in keeping with past presidents who retain privately funded staffs as they embark on various endeavors.

(CNN reported Wednesday that Mrs. Trump will also maintain her own staff and will focus on continuing her "Be Best" children's welfare initiative.) 

Nonetheless, President Trump's announcement of a new endeavor came as something of a surprise given his silence since the inauguration. Trump, a famous media junkie prone to calling up favored TV hosts and reporters, has not spoken publicly since leaving Washington, D.C. 

His popular social media accounts were also closed after he encouraged supporters to march on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and they descended into mob violence. Citing his behavior, companies like Facebook and Twitter said they believed Trump was trying to delegitimize Biden's win and undercut his transition.

Some sources close to the former president have remained mum or out of the loop on what Trump has been doing day-to-day and what decisions he will make about his future, though it increasingly appears the family — including his adult children — will spend a notable amount of time in Florida. 

Daughter Ivanka Trump recently purchased property just outside Miami Beach and she and husband Jared Kushner are renting a condo nearby, PEOPLE understands. Donald Trump Jr. bought two houses in Jupiter with girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle and recently engaged Tiffany Trump is looking at property in Miami.

One source tells PEOPLE that President Trump is focused on his impeachment trial — an assessment echoed by another political source who says "Trump is not happy and eager to find ways to punish those whom he thinks wronged him in the election."

"He will spend coming weeks working on his impeachment trial and listening to advisers on a variety of issues. I think it will be a while before he decides his next steps. But he is aware of the support he still has in the Republican party and will exploit it," says this source.

Donald Trump on Jan. 12, 2021
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty
Donald Trump on Nov. 13, 2020
| Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

Reports have circulated that Trump is weighing how to continue to shape Republican political races at the same time that he has mused about starting a splinter party, amid harsh criticism from some GOP lawmakers after the rioting.

Some observers wonder about a potential presidential library — and the complications of trying to fundraise for it in the wake of the Capitol attack.

A source assures PEOPLE that, whatever the choice is and regardless of his advisers, Trump makes his own decisions.

A third source who speaks with Trump regularly said late last week that they would likely not speak for several days at least, reflecting Trump's emotional state: "He is not in a very good mood."

The former president and first lady returned to his private club in Palm Beach hours before his term expired. There, they have reportedly been meeting with a small team of advisers.

Among those in the Trump orbit right now, sources say, is his former campaign adviser Jason Miller — on hand with him in Florida to guide the early days of his post-presidency. 

CNN reported Wednesday that Mrs. Trump will bring three of her former staffers with her for her post-White House work. (Her longtime adviser and spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham, meanwhile, had resigned in the wake of the Capitol riots.)

While the Trump White House declined to discuss his post-presidency plans in the months before leaving office, he has long been expected to spend much of his time in Palm Beach. In addition to Mar-a-Lago, he owns three nearby homes. While he was president, he most often traveled between Florida and his New Jersey and Virginia golf courses.

One former White House source told PEOPLE last month the "family has many homes and they will be traveling between them."

Donald Trump on Nov. 26, 2020
| Credit: Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images

The outcome of Trump's impeachment trial looms in the coming weeks, though a sizable number of Senate Republicans have indicated they are unlikely to convict him for his role in the Capitol insurrection, which temporarily forced lawmakers into hiding. Five people died.

The Trumps have received a mixed response upon their return to Mar-a-Lago, with some club members looking to distance themselves from the twice-impeached former president, who left D.C. with a historically low approval rating.

One Palm Beach source says some Mar-a-Lago and Trump International Golf Club members have joined at least one other golf club in order to stay away from Trump's courses for the foreseeable future.

"They don't want to be anywhere near him or his name so they are looking for alternative golf clubs to join," the source says. "There are so many to choose from, it shouldn't alter their lifestyles too much. They just want to get as far away from him, and the Trump name, as possible."