The former president, who was permanently banned from Twitter and who is facing investigations into his businesses as well as whether he has culpability for the assault on the Capitol, has generally kept a low profile, except for giving a small round of interviews to sympathetic news outlets about the death of the radio host Rush Limbaugh last week. Even though the interviews were supposed to be about Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Trump still strayed into repeating his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
But CPAC is traditionally a cattle call for Republican candidates for office as well as aspiring figures in the party. And Mr. Trump has signaled to several allies and advisers in recent days that he is focused on running for president again in 2024.
Whether he actually does is an open question. But his presence could freeze the field for the next two years, preventing other candidates from developing operations and, more important, networks of donors to sustain their candidacies.
Mr. Trump is currently locked in a battle with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, over the party’s future and what kind of candidates it attracts. Mr. McConnell has made it clear that he wants to try to minimize Mr. Trump’s influence after the deadly riot.
But Mr. Trump has said he will try to encourage candidates who will carry his brand of politics forward.