Former President Trump has made efforts to distinguish himself from the GOP establishment by waging a war with the party’s traditional fundraising arm — likely as a way to consolidate his massive influence on the party.
Despite declaring his loyalty to the Republican Party at CPAC last month, Trump appeared to preview his impending attacks against the GOP’s traditional arm during his remarks, when he urged attendees to donate only through his political action committee and website. Trump’s speech, which featured a rerun of his grievances, also called on his supporters to “get rid of them all,” referring to congressional Republicans who dared to buck him by voting for his impeachment in the aftermath of the deadly Capitol insurrection he incited earlier this year.
A series of confusing events ensued in the past week between Trump and his snubbing of the GOP fundraising operation:
Friday: Trump sends cease-and-desist letters to three GOP organizations
It all began over the weekend when Trump lawyers sent letters to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The former president’s lawyers demanded that the Republican organizations stop using his name and likeness in their fundraising efforts.
The cease-and-desist letters were issued amid reports that Trump was apparently outraged that his name had been used by organizations that have helped Republicans who voted to impeach him earlier this year.
Ahead of next year’s midterm elections, Republican organizations are reportedly hoping to capitalize on Trump’s appeal to pick up financial contributions from small donors.
A Trump adviser told Politico that those seeking to use the former president’s name or image should seek Trump’s “explicit approval” first.
“President Trump remains committed to the Republican Party and electing America First conservatives, but that doesn’t give anyone – friend or foe – permission to use his likeness,” the adviser told Politico.
Monday afternoon: RNC relocates part of spring donor retreat to Mar-a-Lago
Appearing to try to curry favor with Trump, the RNC decided to relocate part of its spring donor retreat next month to Mar-a-Lago — a decision made just days after Trump’s lawyers sent the cease-and-desist letters to three GOP organizations, including the RNC.
Although the RNC’s donor retreat in early April will take place at a luxury hotel in Palm Beach as usual, the RNC relocated the event’s Saturday evening portion to Mar-a-Lago to accommodate Trump and guests who would like to visit the site, according to the Washington Post.
Despite the apparent effort to tamp down the spat, the committee’s top lawyer brushed off the demand from Trump’s lawyers.
In a letter obtained by the Post and Politico that was sent Monday afternoon to Trump attorney Alex Cannon, RNC chief counsel Justin Riemer wrote that the committee “has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals.”
Both Politico and the Post reported that RNC chair Ronna McDaniel appeared to get the green light from Trump to continue fundraising off of the former president’s likeness.
Reimer wrote in his letter to Trump’s PAC that the former president “reaffirmed” that he “approves of the RNC’s current use of his name in fundraising and other materials,” following Trump’s conversation with McDaniel last weekend, and that the committee “looks forward” to Trump’s participation in its upcoming spring donor retreat, according to copies obtained by Politico and the Post.
“The RNC has not sent any fundraising requests in President Trump’s name or used his image since before he left office, nor would it do so without his prior approval,” Reimer wrote, according to the Post.
Monday night: Trump urges supporters to send money to him, not “RINOS”
Hours after news broke of the relocation, the former president seemed to remain hellbent on his supporters sending money to him directly, not the RNC.
In lieu of his permanent suspension from Twitter, Trump issued a statement through his “Save America” political action committee where he urged his supporters to stop donating to “RINOS” (Republicans In Name Only) and redirect the cash to him instead.
“No more money for RINOS. They do nothing but hurt the Republican Party and our great voting base—they will never lead us to Greatness,” Trump wrote. “Send your donation to Save America PAC at DonaldJTrump.com.”
Tuesday night: Trump re-ups his crusade against “RINOS and fools”
In a statement issued the day after, Trump revived his crusade against “RINOs and fools” while insisting he remains loyal to the Republican Party.
“I fully support the Republican Party and important GOP Committees, but I do not support RINOs and fools, and it is not their right to use my likeness or image to raise funds,” Trump said.
Tuesday night: GOP organizations try an olive branch
Trump’s grievances against “RINOS” didn’t stop the heads of the three GOP organization that received legal notices from trying to make amends with the former president.
In a statement issued Tuesday night, chairs of the Republican National Committee (RNC), National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) said that they look forward to working together with Trump heading into the 2022 midterms.
“The RNC, NRSC and NRCC are grateful for President Trump’s support, both past and future. Through his powerful agenda, we were able to break fundraising records and elect Republicans up and down the ballot. Together, we look forward to working with President Trump to retake our Congressional majorities and deliver results for the American people,” said RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, NRSC Chair Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) and NRCC Chair Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN).