“The RNC MUST be a good partner in the presidential election. He must do the job we expect of the National Party and do it perfectly,” Trump said in the statement. “That means helping to ensure fair and transparent elections across the country, making voting possible everywhere – even in parts of the country where it won’t be easy – and working with my campaign, as the presumptive Republican nominee for president, to win this election and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
The moves come amid Trump’s growing criticism of current RNC chairwoman McDaniel, who is expected to leave her post after the Feb. 24 primary in South Carolina due to Trump’s displeasure over the delay in fundraising and other issues. LaCivita told others he wanted to make widespread changes within the organization.
The 168 members of the Republican Party will have to vote for Whatley and Lara Trump, and LaCivita will have to be hired by the party leadership. But Trump’s support makes those nominations likely, longtime party observers say.
Monday’s draft statement surprised some party officials, who had been negotiating a transition with Trump for weeks after Trump began telling others he wanted to expel McDaniel.
Trump decided to move up his announcement, scheduled for after the South Carolina primary, “because all kinds of leaks have been happening,” one adviser said. “It was just to rip the band-aid off and get it over with.”
McDaniel has not officially announced his resignation. A party meeting to choose new leadership is expected to take place in March.
Installing a family member and top aide would likely give Trump far greater operational control over the RNC and how it spends large sums of money in elections. The party paid millions of dollars in Trump’s legal fees before he officially became a 2024 presidential candidate and could do so again.
Lara Trump — who is married to the former president’s son, Eric Trump — has weighed in for a Senate run and has been heavily involved in the former president’s political efforts in recent years. The co-chair’s salary is set by the RNC budget committee, but is typically around $250,000, a party official said.
LaCivita is a top campaign aide and has a long history in Republican politics.
McDaniel’s decision to leave came after she visited Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago Club a week ago.
McDaniel, who is in his fourth term as RNC chair, was set to serve until 2025 but has been considering leaving for months. His relationship with Trump deteriorated following Republican primary debates featuring his opponents last fall, according to people familiar with the discussions. Trump wanted her to cancel them and she refused.
Trump and his allies were also unhappy with the poor fundraising record of the RNC, which had about half the money of the Democratic National Committee at the end of December.
Betsy Ankeny, the campaign manager for Nikki Haley, Trump’s primary challenger, said in a statement Monday evening that “Trump just announced he was rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
“Under Donald Trump and current RNC leadership, Republicans lost elections in 2018, 2020 and 2022, and now the RNC is effectively bankrupt,” Ankeny said. “Nikki Haley’s plan for the RNC? Blow it all up.