President Donald Trump hinted at running for president again in 2024 as he hosted a holiday reception at the White House on Tuesday evening.
“It’s been an amazing four years,” Mr Trump told the crowd, which included many Republican National Committee members.
“We’re trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”
The video of Mr Trump’s appearance was streamed live on Facebook by one attendee, former Oklahoma Republican Party Chair Pam Pollard.
It showed dozens of people crammed into the Cross Hall of the White House state floor, standing closely together. Many seen in the video were not wearing masks.
It’s certainly an unusual year. We won an election. But they don’t like thatDonald Trump
The Trumps began hosting holiday receptions this week, intent on celebrating a final festive season before Mr Trump leaves office on January 20.
According to social media postings reviewed by The Associated Press, the events have featured large crowds of often mask-less attendees gathered indoors — violating the very public health guidance the US government has pressed the nation to follow this holiday season as cases of Covid-19 skyrocket across the country.
In the video, Mr Trump is heard continuing to air baseless allegations of election fraud to explain his defeat by President-elect Joe Biden despite his attorney general, William Barr, telling the AP earlier on Tuesday that the Justice Department had not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud and had seen nothing that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
“It’s certainly an unusual year. We won an election. But they don’t like that,” Mr Trump told the group, adding: “I call it a rigged election, and I always will.”
The White House has been the site of at least one suspected Covid-19 superspreader event, and dozens of the president’s aides, campaign staffers and allies have tested positive in numerous outbreaks. Mr Trump himself was admitted to hospital for the virus in October, and the first lady and two of his sons have tested positive. Numerous others have had to quarantine.
Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s spokeswoman and chief of staff, had said last month that the White House would be moving forward with events “while providing the safest environment possible”.
She said that would include smaller guest lists, that “masks will be required and available, social distancing encouraged while on the White House grounds, and hand sanitiser stations throughout the State Floor”.
“Attending the parties will be a very personal choice,” she added.