Former President Donald J. Trump made public Monday evening what he had been discussing privately for days: He has chosen someone to replace Ronna McDaniel as chair of the Republican National Committee and wants his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump , to be its co-president.
“The RNC MUST be a good partner in the presidential election,” Mr. Trump wrote in his statement. “He must do the job we expect of the National Party and do it perfectly. This means helping to ensure fair and transparent elections across the country” and ensuring that the vote is made public, he said.
He said he wanted his “friend” Michael Whatley, currently chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party and general counsel to the national committee, and “my very talented daughter-in-law, Lara Trump,” to lead the party. .
“Lara is an extremely talented communicator and is dedicated to everything MAGA stands for,” Mr. Trump said of his daughter-in-law, who is married to his second son, Eric. “She told me she wanted to accept this challenge and that it would be great!”
The statement came hours after The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump had told people he planned to support Mrs. Trump. The Times previously reported that Mr. Trump wanted Mr. Whatley — a supporter of his false claims about widespread voter fraud — as the next RNC chairman.
The President and Co-President are paid positions.
Mr. Trump can’t just name them. Elections are to be called to replace Ms McDaniel when she ultimately decides to step down. And despite Mr. Trump’s strong influence on the party, his support for Mr. Whatley in 2023 as co-chairman was not enough to get him across the finish line and to victory.
Ms Trump had considered running for the US Senate in North Carolina, which is her and Mr Whatley’s home state, in 2021, ahead of the following year’s primaries. But she ultimately chose not to run.
Mr. Trump added in his statement that one of his current top campaign advisers, Chris LaCivita, would become “de facto” the RNC’s chief operating officer – cementing Trump’s total control over the party apparatus.
“Every penny will be used properly,” Mr. Trump concluded, referring to widespread concerns among Republicans about the RNC’s strained finances. “New day.”
Ms. McDaniel, who has led the party’s official organ for several years, told Mr. Trump that she planned to step down shortly after the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24, according to two people briefed on the matter. Mr. Trump has publicly described Ms. McDaniel as a “friend,” but she has been the subject of intense pressure, both inside and outside the Trump campaign.
Mr. Trump’s team plans to merge the RNC and his campaign as much as possible. This would be a change from 2016, when he was the insurgent candidate whose team was often at odds with party pillars, and from 2020, when he was an incumbent president with a team that assigned functions essential to the party committee. This time, Mr. Trump’s team is aiming for as little daylight as possible between the two entities, according to several people briefed on the matter.
And they hope to begin the partnership with the RNC well before the Republican National Convention in mid-July — boosting Mr. Trump’s status as he considers at least one potential criminal trial between now and then and four criminal trials in total .
Mr. Trump and his advisers have focused heavily on the resources he would have as a candidate as he faces enormous legal costs. Those bills have so far been paid by a political action committee he controls, Save America.
Mr. Trump is fighting what remains of his Republican primary opposition with Nikki Haley, who had been his ambassador to the United Nations. But Ms. Haley is trailing Mr. Trump in South Carolina, her home state, as well as in the Super Tuesday states.
After Mr. Trump beat Ms. Haley in the New Hampshire primary — the first state where she was best positioned to defeat him — Ms. McDaniel, who had remained publicly neutral until then, said it was time for the party to unite around Mr. Atout.
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