Five things to watch at Trump's Michigan rally

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE will hold a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Thursday night, his first campaign-style event since special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE concluded his 22-month Russia investigation.

The president is likely to continue his victory lap following the release of a four-page summary from Attorney General William BarrBill BarrGOP senator says Trump commuting Stone was a 'mistake' Barr recommended Trump not give Stone clemency: report Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence MORE on Sunday that said the Mueller report did not find that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government. Barr also said Mueller did "'not conclude that the President committed a crime'" but also did not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice.


Here are five things to watch at the rally, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. EDT.

Does Trump sound like he is out for revenge?

The president has been exuberant in the wake of Barr's summary, declaring the report a "complete exoneration."

Trump is expected to use Thursday's rally to turn Mueller's core conclusions into a political cudgel and whip his supporters into a frenzy as he targets those behind the investigation for retribution.

"We can never allow this treasonous — these treasonous acts to happen to another president," Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday night. "This was an attempted takeover of our government, of our country, an illegal takeover."

In the same interview, he suggested House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffSunday shows preview: Coronavirus poses questions about school safety; Trump commutes Roger Stone sentence Pelosi plans legislation to limit pardons, commutations after Roger Stone move Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' MORE (D-Calif.) should be "forced out of office," slammed former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump on possible Roger Stone pardon: 'His prayer may be answered' How conservative conspiracy theories are deepening America's political divide Bolton book sells 780,000 copies in first week, set to surpass 1M copies printed MORE and former CIA Director John BrennanJohn Owen BrennanGraham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over GOP votes to give chairman authority to subpoena Obama officials Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony MORE for their early involvement in the Russia investigation, and said he "absolutely" plans to declassify and release surveillance applications related to the probe.

Trump may even go after his 2016 Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden wins Louisiana primary Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' The Memo: Democrats feel rising tide in Florida MORE. Such a move would draw certain pushback from Democrats and ethics officials who have warned against politically motivated investigations, but would appeal to his supporters, who tend to break into chants of "lock her up."

How does he approach the 2020 election?

Thursday's rally will be Trump's first since mid-February. Since then, the field of 2020 Democratic candidates has expanded, with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden wins Louisiana primary Oh, Canada: Should the US emulate Canada's National Health Service? Trump glosses over virus surge during Florida trip MORE (I-Vt.) and former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBellwether counties show trouble for Trump Colorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset Clinton, Buttigieg among Democrats set to hold virtual events for Biden MORE (D-Texas) jumping into the race.


The president has used past rallies to belittle Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTrump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' Pharma pricing is a problem, but antitrust isn't the (only) solution MORE (D-Mass.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' Koch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs MORE (D-N.J.), among other 2020 contenders. He'll likely utilize the Michigan event to define his potential opponents with derisive nicknames, highlight their personal gaffes and label progressive policies as "socialist."

In addition, the president may seek to get a head start on appealing directly to voters about his 2020 candidacy, as Michigan will be critical to his reelection bid. He won the state in 2016 by roughly 11,000 votes.

Trump, who rarely misses a chance to credit his administration with positive economic developments, will likely harp on low unemployment and recent investments by Fiat Chrysler, Ford and others in the state to make the case that voters would benefit from another four years of his presidency.

Does he allude to pardons?

Trump has insisted he's not focused on whether to issue pardons to his former associates implicated in the special counsel's investigation, but has repeatedly expressed sympathy for the likes of former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump turns to immigration; primary day delays expected GOP votes to give Graham broad subpoena power in Obama-era probe Will the 'law and order' president pardon Roger Stone? MORE.

"It's a very, very sad thing," Trump told Hannity on Wednesday. "I don't want to talk about pardons now but I can say, it’s so sad on so many levels."

The White House and Trump's attorneys downplayed possible pardons as the special counsel's probe played out, but now that it's reached its conclusion the president could be more publicly receptive to the idea.

Conservatives have advocated for Trump to pardon Flynn, who pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to the FBI, and former Trump campaign aide George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosNew FBI document confirms the Trump campaign was investigated without justification Republicans plow ahead with Russia origins probe AG Barr just signaled that things are about to get ugly for the Russia collusion team MORE said this week his lawyers have asked the president for a pardon.

While Trump is unlikely to declare his intentions Thursday, he could further signal that he's considering the idea.

Does he seize on health care?

Trump caught many Republicans off guard this week when he declared the GOP would be known as "the party of great health care."

The president clearly sees the issue as a political winner. He sought to assure voters ahead of the 2018 midterms that Republicans would protect those with pre-existing conditions, and the Justice Department is backing a legal effort to strike down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.

But it's also a potentially perilous point of focus, as Democrats campaigned during the 2018 midterms and ultimately picked up 40 seats in the House, largely by hammering Republicans over their votes to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

Trump has frequently railed against his predecessor's signature legislation, but he has not offered an alternative other than to promise "a plan that is far better than ObamaCare."

Marc Short, chief of staff for Vice President Pence, said Wednesday evening that Trump will propose a health care plan to Congress sometime this year. He did not offer many specifics, leaving open the possibility Trump may make some promises of his own on Thursday.

Will Trump have any surprises?

The president's campaign rallies are often unpredictable events, with the president liable to go off script, make news with off-the-cuff remarks or weigh in on seemingly unrelated topics.

He might bring guests up on stage to sing his praises, or conversely could create fresh headlines by once again attacking the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMcCain's reset: US-Vietnam relations going strong after 25 years Senate outlook slides for GOP Juan Williams: Time for boldness from Biden MORE (R-Ariz.) or an unexpected target.

The length of Trump's rally could itself exceed expectations. While Trump is scheduled to depart the venue at 8 p.m. for a flight to Florida, his campaign events tend to run long.

Earlier this month, Trump spoke for roughly two hours at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Even though it was not a traditional campaign event, the extended free-wheeling remarks underscored the president's penchant to surprise when he takes the stage in a room full of supporters.