How Donald Trump Spent His First Week as a Former President: Golf, Silence and Impeachment Prep
While the United States settles into a new era under President Joe Biden, many across the country are getting used to another major change: silence from Donald Trump.
After more than five years of constantly breaking both news and norms — tweeting day and night and overnight — the former president left the White House on the morning of Jan. 20 and retreated to his private Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
There, Trump, 74, has remained mum and largely out of the public's eye, having been booted from his favorite social media platforms in the wake of the Capitol riots.
It is arguably Trump's first period of sustained privacy not just since launching his campaign in 2015 but in decades.
The former reality television star and New York City media magnet has only been spotted fleetingly in the past week: by photographers' lens. Images of him golfing over the weekend (his only noted outings) were published by a tabloid; and he was seen Wednesday returning to his club.
Despite some reporting that Trump had considered creating a splinter third political party for his red-hatted "Make America Great Again" brand — something he is said to have walked back — a Florida political source says tells PEOPLE that the twice-impeached president has been more interested in retribution.
And he has a Senate trial coming up.
"Trump is not happy and eager to find ways to punish those whom he thinks wronged him in the election," the source tells PEOPLE. "He will spend the coming weeks working on his impeachment trial and listening to advisors on a variety of issues. I think it will be a while before he decides his next steps."
Indeed, another close Trump source tells PEOPLE the former president is focused on his impeachment defense after the House of Representatives charged him with incitement of an insurrection when the U.S. Capitol was attacked on Jan 6.
Trump made a rare formal announcement Monday through an email blast to members of the media: After claiming earlier this month that he would "never concede" to Biden, 78, Trump launched an "Office of the Former President," which will manage announcements about and support his work going forward.
The move was a post-presidential formality typical of previous commanders-in-chief.
It also indicates he and former First Lady Melania Trump will retain some aides in order to continue their post-White House work. Jason Miller, a campaign adviser, and Marcia Lee Kelly, who worked in the East Wing, are among that group.
In his final speech as president, Trump vowed to "be back in some form" before he flew away from Washington, D.C.
While no one welcomed him at the airport in Florida, many supporters lined miles of the road between there and his club. Protesters gathered, too.
"We love you 45," read one sign. Another mocked Trump with "You're Fired."
Unusually, according to reporters traveling with him, his motorcade slowed at various points as though he wanted to linger on the moment with his fans. (For her part, the former first lady had changed on Air Force One from an all-black departure ensemble to a ferociously patterned dress once she arrived in Florida.)
Twenty-nine minutes before his presidency ended, Trump arrived at Mar-a-Lago on Jan. 20 and disappeared from view.
He golfed the next day at his golf course but largely kept to himself, working with lawyers and advisers.
A close source who speaks with him regularly told PEOPLE last week that they were keeping their distance for the time being: "He is not in a very good mood. I will wait a while to discuss anything with him."
Trump is expected to live at Mar-a-Lago for the indefinite future, along with his wife (who is reportedly interested in continuing her "Be Best" children's welfare initiative) and their teenage son, Barron.
There are issues though, including a '90s-era agreement Trump signed about how Mar-a-Lago was to be used, which locals say prevents him from living there for any length of time. The city says it is reviewing the matter, which may come up before the city council next month.
And after returning home with the lowest approval rating on record, sources tell PEOPLE some of Trump's longtime club members defected to at least one other local golf course, seeking distance from the ex-president.
Not everyone felt that way, however.
"There are members who feel close to power and will remain as close to him as possible," a Mar-a-Lago source tells PEOPLE. "He can do no wrong. They don't care what anyone says. He talks to them at the club and they love that, and they feel he is not going away as far as power in Republican circles."
This source believes that Mrs. Trump — who maintains separate lodgings from her husband at their club — will have "her own life."
"Melania has her family and son and will lead her own life doing what she wants with all of the assets she has," the source says. "She loves Florida and will spend her time making a good life for Barron no matter what Donald decides to do. She isn't worried about it."
At the same time, some neighbors say they're livid that the former president — impeached two weeks ago for inciting a deadly riot at the Capitol — has found refuge nearby.
"He is not welcome in Palm Beach at all," one neighbor says. "He let us down as a nation. He showed that he doesn't care."
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