Ronna McDaniel, right, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, and Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary, conduct a news conference to discuss Pennsylvania litigation and to give an overview of the post-Election Day landscape, at the RNC on Capitol Hill on Monday, November 9, 2020.
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
The leaders of three top Republican Party committees praised former President Donald Trump on Wednesday for pledging his support to them, even as Trump is actively urging GOP donors to send their money directly to him.
The committees’ response was the latest indication that the GOP remains firmly in the former president’s grip, even as he trashes prominent party members who have criticized him.
“We look forward to working with President Trump to retake our Congressional majorities and deliver results for the American people,” said the joint statement from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer.
“The RNC, NRSC and NRCC are grateful for President Trump’s support, both past and future,” the statement said. “Through his powerful agenda, we were able to break fundraising records and elect Republicans up and down the ballot.”
Trump, who commands overwhelming support among GOP voters even after losing his reelection bid, is discouraging Republicans from sending money to “people that do not have the GOP’s best interests in mind.”
Those people, according to Trump, comprise a yet-unspecified group of “fools” and “RINOs” — a derogatory term that stands for “Republicans in name only.”
Trump is instead directing people toward his own political action committee, Save America. Donations to that committee, known as a leadership PAC, can potentially be used to pay for all sorts of personal expenses.
Since losing to President Joe Biden, Trump has lashed out at numerous top Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney. He has continued to peddle the unfounded conspiracy theories and lies about election fraud that got him banned from social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
In his most recent statement Tuesday night, Trump said, “I fully support the Republican Party and important GOP Committees, but I do not support RINOs and fools.”
That statement claimed that by donating to Save America, “you are helping the America First movement and doing it right.”
Trump’s PAC has reportedly raised tens of millions of dollars since it was formed after the Nov. 3 election. That money can be used for “just about anything” Trump wants, experts say — including providing benefits for himself and his family.
“It’s entirely possible Trump could use Save America both to maintain control and influence over the Republican Party and also to benefit himself and his family members personally,” Brendan Fischer, federal reform program director at the Campaign Legal Center, told CNBC.
At the same time Trump is pushing his own PAC, he is demanding that the GOP stop using his name and likeness in its own fundraising efforts.
Trump’s lawyers sent cease-and-desist letters to the three GOP committees last week. On Monday, RNC chief counsel J. Justin Riemer rejected Trump’s demand, saying the organization “has every right to refer to public figures … and it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals.”
Wednesday’s statement from the RNC, NRSC and NRCC appeared to demonstrate that the GOP remains willing to invoke Trump’s brand in its fundraising messages.
Trump and the RNC raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the 2020 election cycle, as well as more than $200 million in the weeks before and after the election itself, when Trump was aggressively spreading voter fraud conspiracy theories.