Analysis: Trump will use his acquittal to relaunch political warfare

Even if he does not run for the White House again Trump intends to dominate the landscape

Trump walks out of the White House in July 
Trump walks out of the White House in July  Credit: Chip Somodevilla

Remember Sarah Palin? She lives in Alaska now, and you don't hear much about her.

There are senior Republicans who hope Donald Trump will similarly become a voice at the fringes of the party, shouting into the wind, a subject for the occasional "Where are they now?" TV segment.

But that is certainly not how the former president envisions his future, and the future of Republicanism.

Instead, Mr Trump intends to use his impeachment trial as a launching pad for a forceful return to the political stage.

Even if he does not run for the White House again himself he intends to dominate the landscape.

Mr Trump is looking ahead to holding rallies, although that would not be "immediate," an adviser told The Sunday Telegraph.

The former president plans to target his enemies and back Republican candidates loyal to him in next year's congressional elections, both financially and in person.

He is sitting on an election war chest of $30 million, raised in the final months of his presidency.

Mr Trump will probably also keep his profile high with paid speeches, which he is entitled to do as a private citizen, like Bill and Hillary Clinton before him.

That could mean making appearances around the world - including the UK.

He is also keen to look at new business ventures globally, including potentially new hotels.

But a plan for a television station was said to have been rejected for now in favour of promoting existing supportive ones.

Mr Trump heeded advice to remain publicly silent during the trial. He took some time for "relaxation" and allowed the process to take its course, an aide said.

He watched some, but far from all, of the case on television.

As the prosecution laid out its evidence he left Mar-a-Lago and went to play golf.

Mr Trump followed this trial less closely than his first, and was completely confident of being acquitted. He did take time, however, to negatively critique the performance of one of his own lawyers.

He was also said to have become increasingly impatient and pushed for the trial over as quickly as possible, including wanting it to sit on the weekend.

The end of the trial brings the Republican Party to a crossroads.

It has become clear that leaders cannot break with Mr Trump because they will not win without the support of his base.

But can they hold on to Mr Trump's base without the man himself? The answer would appear to be no.

According to a poll taken on the eve of the trial 74 per cent of Republicans want Mr Trump to remain active in politics, 48 per cent want him to remain head of the Republican Party, while 11 per cent think he should start a third party.

Senior Republicans have therefore launched efforts to keep Mr Trump "inside the tent".

According to a poll taken on the eve of the trial 74 per cent of Republicans want Mr Trump to remain active in politics Credit: AP

Lindsey Graham, the prominent Republican senator, said during a break in the trial: "I'm going to try and convince him that we can't get there without you, but you can't keep the Trump movement going without the GOP united.

"If we come back in 2022, then, it's an affirmation of your policies. But if we lose again in 2022, the narrative is going to continue that not only you lost the White House, but the Republican Party is in a bad spot.”

Mr Graham, who spoke with the former president on Friday, added: "Trump's got to work with everybody. You got to put your best team on the field."

While cultivating his support some Republicans will also be making the case to Mr Trump that he is now too divisive to stand again for the party's nomination in 2024.

Prosecutors set out a video-heavy presentation, splicing Mr Trump's words with images of violence at the US Capitol on Jan 6, and it was replayed endlessly on American television screens.

The Democrat goal was to try Mr Trump in the court of public opinion, and to make him unacceptable as a future candidate even if acquitted.

Some moderate Republicans were quietly pleased with the strength of the prosecution case, hoping it could save them from the internecine warfare that a new Trump candidacy would bring.