When the Republican National Committee essentially told Donald Trump to kiss their grits after his attorneys sent them (and two other, powerful Republican party committees) cease and desist letters, it seemed that they had finally put their sassy pants on and were ready to stand up to someone – but unfortunately, that someone wasn’t a Democrat.
The battle between the GOP establishment and Trump had largely flown under the radar until last weekend, when it was reported in the national media that Trump had issued the cease and desist letter. That letter was sent after the AP ran a story (which had to have been placed by a Never Trumper in the RNC) claiming that the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC were worried that Trump will hurt their fundraising efforts going into the 2022 midterms, and painting Trump as having only one concern – himself. The cease and desist letter was issued, then the RNC rejected it.
That rejection also made national news, including here at RedState. Tuesday afternoon, Trump issued a statement that was somewhat conciliatory, but very pointed, and seemed to reply to statements contained in the AP story. He said:
“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. So much money is being raised and completely wasted by people that do not have the GOP’s best interests in mind.”
Leaders of the “important GOP committees,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, NRSC Chair Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), and NRCC Chair Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), then issued a statement:
“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.”
According to NPR, the RNC has also pledged to “seek Trump’s ‘prior approval’ for future materials.”
If the Never Trump wing of those committees could stay out of it, that might be the end of the story. But they can’t, because their livelihoods and identities are threatened by Trump. A number of them spoke out to NPR, which then editorialized the RNC’s (or at least the anti-Trump members’) reasoning:
It’s pretty standard for political parties to use the image or words of popular and powerful people to try to raise money and help elect people from that party. But it appears to chafe Trump when anyone uses his name or image and he doesn’t see a direct benefit. After all, much of the money he made before becoming president was from licensing his name to adorn the sides of buildings or properties he didn’t own.
Seriously, the only place they could leak to is NPR?
If there were any doubt that the NPR story was placed by operatives hostile to Trump, the construction of the rest of the piece leaves no doubt. They speak to two people who are former employees of the RNC and NRCC respectively, and build a narrative that Trump’s moves are all about control and having a slush fund he can use to do basically whatever he wants with.
Doug Heye, former communications director at RNC and “no fan of Trump,” according to NPR, said that Trump’s promotion of Save America PAC and issuing the cease and desist letters:
“…[S]houldn’t be surprising to anyone. We’ve known that Trump’s loyalty is to himself — not only first and foremost, but only. We’ve seen that play out any time anyone has said anything critical.
“Ronna McDaniel basically dropped her maiden name for the guy. She’s been fiercely loyal to Trump, always defended him, never been critical, and this is the thanks you get. It says to me — Trump doesn’t give points, he only takes them away one at a time.”
And Matt Gorman, former NRCC comms director, said:
“What this really is about is control. He [Trump] doesn’t have the political infrastructure of the RNC and others at his beck and call that he did three months ago as president.”
The two also attempt to persuade people that the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC are doing things for state parties and candidates that Trump has not – and cannot – and that he diverted money that could have been used for the Georgia runoffs, and is therefore responsible for Republican losses.
For example, they help fund state parties, put money into local get-out-the-vote efforts and provide parties and candidates across the country with access to sophisticated data programs that include voter contact files, from which they can identify high- and low-propensity voters in their districts and track contacts with them.
Trump’s PAC doesn’t have that ability, and in recent months, he doesn’t have a very good track record of spending the kind of money necessary for candidates to win.
As a Super PAC, it’s true that Save America PAC cannot coordinate directly with candidates, including giving them access to “sophisticated data programs.” But, they can certainly pour money into independent, get-out-the-vote efforts – or fully fund their own. Considering the absolute mess most state parties are in, even if Trump’s PAC could help fund them, he’d likely choose not to – and the people who donate to him would rather he not fund state parties.
According to Heye, here’s the reality:
“The reality is — this is going to be money Donald Trump can do whatever he wants with, without spending his own money and could basically be paying his lawyer bills,” Heye said.
“Donald Trump basically wants a slush fund he can control. At the RNC, he can’t control it. Yes, it is basically Trump’s party still, and that includes state party chairs and Republican National Committee members, but the RNC chair doesn’t serve at the pleasure of Trump anymore. She works more immediately for the 168 [committee members], and there is a separation there.”
Is that the reality, or is the reality that he’s representing millions of people who are sick of the RNC and other establishment entities behaving as a Good Ol’ Boys Club? Or is the reality that people like Doug Heye and Matt Gorman want to continue wielding control while taking zero responsibility for their failures?
The NPR article lists Liz Cheney as an example of the control Trump wishes he could wield. They know that he wants Cheney, as well as Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, successfully primaried, and would use funds from his PAC to accomplish that goal. The RNC, NRSC, and NRCC instead have a goal of filling seats with people who attach an R to their name – whether or not they act like a Republican.
And right there, you have the most important reason that Trump supporters will donate to Save America PAC over one of the party entities. They’re sick of watching those entities promote squishy Republicans, instead of cultivating a field of people who will stick to conservative principles once elected, and sick of watching those entities not hold Republicans accountable once they’re elected.
It’ll be an interesting meeting at Mar-a-Lago this weekend.