Donald Trump plans to bring back 'MAGA' rallies despite threat of COVID-19

Donald Trump at a rally.
Donald Trump at a rally. Photo credit: Getty

Former US President Donald Trump is reportedly planning to restart his infamous 'MAGA' rallies, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and not yet being a candidate for office.

Trump, who rejected the results of the 2020 presidential election and was later accused of inciting the January 6 riots at the capitol which left five people dead, remains "bitter" about his loss, CNN reports.

Aides and others close to Trump told the network he's planning to resume the rallies as soon as May, hoping to boost Republican candidates that have earned his favour. 

"It will definitely be different in terms of the setup, but we got really good at planning these events in 2020, so we will probably use a lot of those same vendors again," one person said.

During his presidency, Trump downplayed the threat of COVID-19, repeatedly made false claims about its severity and promoted false cures. A study published in October 2020 found his rallies - usually held indoors without thousands of people in close proximity and not wearing masks - probably led to tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases and more than 700 deaths. 

Trump lost the popular vote in both 2016 and 2020, but that hasn't stopped him from mulling another go. He told podcast the Dan Bongino Show this week he'd make his intentions clear after the 2022 midterm elections, the Daily Mail reports.

"I'm giving it very serious consideration," Trump said, calling his potential rival for the Republican nomination - Maryland Governor Larry Hogan - a "total loser". 

Hogan has been a long-time critic of Trump, and in January said he wanted to take the party in a "completely different direction" to the former reality TV star, who made more than 30,000 false or misleading claims while in office, according to a Washington Post tracker. 

Trump told the Dan Bongino Show polls for him were "very positive", "nobody's seen anything more positive". 

A new NBC poll found only 32 percent of US voters rate Trump positively, with 55 percent negative - most "very negative".

Trump also claimed candidates are coming to him for endorsements. 

"It's a different kind of life, but still very political because of the endorsements," he said. "Everyone comes and they all want the endorsement, more than they've ever wanted an endorsement. It's never been an endorsement that's meant so much, which is an honour to me.'"

Only one US President in history has returned to the role after being knocked out of office - Grover Cleveland, who was reportedly gracious in defeat despite winning the popular vote.