Donald Trump plans to ‘take revenge’ on Ron DeSantis if reelected, niece Mary Trump says

If he is re-elected in 2024, Donald Trump is going to take “revenge” against his political antagonists, federal officials and even former allies like Florida governor Ron DeSantis, according to Mr Trump’s niece Mary Trump.

On a Friday episode of her podcast The Mary Trump Show, Ms Trump interviewed New York University historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat, and the pair agreed that strongmen-style leaders like Mr Trump who find themselves in legal jeopardy will often continue to seek power to punish their enemies and avoid punishment themselves.

Ms Ben-Ghiat believes the former president will take special umbrage with Mr DeSantis, the most successful of the Republicans to parrot Mr Trump’s style and false claims about the 2022 election, because the Florida governor has reaped all the political benefits without facing federal investigations and impeachment hearings.

“He must be particularly upset with Mr Ron DeSantis who has learned all of his lessons as the most ruthless of the bunch,” Professor Ben-Ghiat, author of Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present, said.

“He’s flourishing and Trump’s in limbo, which increases the odds that he has to run for office, because he’s got to get back in, shut everything down, take revenge,” she added. “This is how strongmen are.”

Mr Trump endorsed Mr DeSantis during his 2018 run for Florida governor, but the pair’s relationship has soured as the former president’s protege has grown in national prominence and come to be seen as Mr Trump’s only serious rival for the 2024 GOP presidential ticket.

In a forthcoming book from New York Times correspondent Maggie Haberman, Mr Trump reportedly complained that Mr DeSantis is “fat,” “phony,” and “whiny.” (Mr Trump has said the book is inaccurate.)

The former president has reportedly also fumed at Mr DeSantis’s recent, highly controversial migrant flights moving asylum seekers from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, with Mr Trump, a staunch opponent of immigration, claiming the stunt was “his idea”.

As early as 2021, Mr Trump was claiming somewhat tartly that he was responsible for Mr DeSantis’s success.

“Well, I don’t know that he wants to run [in 2024], you know, I have a good relationship with Ron,” Mr Trump told an interviewer. “But I was very responsible for him getting elected, as you know.”

The Florida governor, for his part, is also feeling the strain in his relationship with Donald Trump.

“[DeSantis] calls him a TV personality and a moron who has no business running for president,” a former staffer told Vanity Fair.

In a deeply reported profile of the Florida governor, those in his inner circle indicated Mr DeSantis would go for the jugular against Mr Trump in a hypothetical 2024 primary, though neither man has formalised their suspected bids for the White House.

“DeSantis says the only way to beat Trump is to attack him head-on,” a GOP source told the magazine. “He says he would turn to Trump during a debate and say, ‘Why didn’t you fire Fauci? You said you would build the wall, but there is no wall. Why is that?’”