Latest News 09-03-2024 00:02 6 Views

Party takeover: Trump installs top ally and daughter-in-law to steer Republican National Committee

- The Republican Party is once again completely under the thumb of former President Donald Trump.

The former president's picks to serve as chair and co-chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) – Trump ally and North Carolina GOP chair Michael Whatley and daughter-in-law Lara Trump – were unanimously confirmed on Friday by voice votes as the RNC held a recently planned general session.

'Over the next eight months, the RNC will work hand in glove with President Trump,' Whatley declared in his acceptance speech.

And Lara Trump, speaking minutes later, emphasized that 'we have one goal. The goal on November 5th is to win. And as my father-in-law says, bigly.'

Whatley, who was the RNC's general counsel, succeeded longtime chair Ronna McDaniel, whom Trump picked to steer the national party committee after he won the White House in 2016. Her departure on Friday came after Trump earlier this year repeatedly urged changes at the committee – after lackluster fundraising last year and his opposition to the RNC's presidential primary debates – which essentially pushed McDaniel out the door.

'The state of our party is strong,' McDaniel declared in her departure speech.

And pointing to the RNC's fundraising rebound in January and February, McDaniel touted 'the best two months of fundraising the RNC has ever had when we didn’t occupy the White House.'

While fundraising will be a major focus going forward, as the Trump campaign and the RNC aim to compete with the rival Democratic National Committee and President Biden's campaign, continuing and beefing up already existing RNC programs dedicated to election integrity will also be a top priority.

'Everyone in this room and every voter across the country knows that we must protect the sanctity of their vote,' said Whatley, who's been a strong supporter of Trump's unproven claims that his 2020 election loss to Biden was due to massive voter fraud.

After highlighting that he 'worked closely with Chairwoman McDaniel to build our election integrity program from scratch,' Whatley stressed 'we will do more.'

Trump also installed campaign adviser Chris LaCivita as RNC chief of staff. LaCivita, a longtime Republican strategist and RNC veteran, will continue to keep his role as one of the two top advisers steering Trump's 2024 presidential campaign.

'The RNC today. It’s not going to look the same next week. There’s obviously going to be changes,' LaCivita told reporters ahead of the gathering. But he declined to get into details.

The RNC gathering came in the same week Trump swept 14 of the 15 GOP primaries and caucuses on Super Tuesday – which moved him much closer to officially locking up the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. It also comes just two days after Trump's last rival for the nomination – former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley – dropped out of the race.

'He’s the presumptive nominee. He’s going to be our nominee. He’s going to be the guy to beat Joe Biden, and it’s normal for the presumptive nominee of the party to run the RNC,' longtime RNC committee member from Mississippi, Henry Barbour, told Fox News on the eve of the meeting.

New Hampshire GOP chair and former RNC committee member Chris Ager, who attended the meeting, emphasized that 'Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee and this is the party of Trump.'

'The people at the RNC know and like Mike Whatley, so he’s a good choice and Lara Trump is a trusted adviser to the president, so why not give him the tools he needs to get the job done. If he trusts those people, let’s give him what he needs to get that win in November,' Ager told Fox News ahead of the meeting.

Trump's takeover of the RNC is far from controversial. It is traditional, as a presidential election cycle moves from the primaries to the general election for the presumptive nominee of the party out of power, to take control and merge operations. 

Barbour emphasized that while 'there’s always some drama' at RNC meetings, 'it’s really important that the party pull together... and we need the former president leading us on that, bringing us together as a party so we can win not just the White House but the Senate, the House, state, local.'

However, there was some controversy in recent weeks over concerns that the cash-strapped RNC would be forced to pay some of Trump's massive legal bills. 

The former president faces four major criminal trials and a total of 91 indictments, as well as a $355 million civil fraud judgment which Trump's appealing. A political action committee affiliated with the former president has shelled out nearly $80 million in the past two years to pay Trump's many lawyers.

The RNC paid some of Trump's legal bills when he was in the White House and after he left office. However, McDaniel said two years ago that the committee would stop paying those bills once Trump became a candidate again.

LaCivita said in recent days that the RNC would not be paying the bills. The Trump campaign told Fox News on Wednesday that the committee would  'absolutely not' be providing any of its funds to alleviate Trump's legal costs.

'Hard no. Absolutely not. Asked and answered,' a spokesperson reiterated.

Barbour recently proposed a non-binding resolution stating that RNC funds could not be used for Trump’s legal bills. However, the resolution was nixed after Barbour was unable to earn the support of RNC members from at least 10 states.

'A small group of us offered a resolution to the committee that essentially said that the number one job and the only job of the RNC is to win elections. And if that’s our job, we need to spend our money on that and not on paying anybody’s legal bills,' Barbour told Fox News.

He emphasized that 'while we came up short… it was an important conversation and the Trump campaign has confirmed indeed that they have no plans to spend any RNC dollars on it and will not do it.'

'We appreciate that very much,' he noted.


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