Former President Donald Trump announced a series of endorsements for leadershipMonday night, a decision that will shake up the current leadership of the GOP.
Trump said he supports Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, to lead the RNC as chairman and his daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair. This would be Lara Trump’s first leadership position within the party.
Trump also announced that he had asked one of his campaign’s top advisers, Chris LaCivita, to join the RNC to take on the role of director of operations.
“This group of three is very talented, seasoned and intelligent,” Trump wrote in a statement Monday evening. “They have my full and total support to lead the Republican National Committee.”
LaCivita, however, would not leave the campaign if he becomes COO of the RNC, according to a senior GOP source with knowledge of the former president’s proposed plans. LaCivita and another top Trump adviser, Susie Wiles, run the Trump campaign, and LaCivita would still split her time between the RNC and the campaign. Trump asked LaCivita directly during a meeting with his close adviser, the GOP source said.
Trump, who has so far decisively won the GOP’s first primary elections, believes the RNC has not been run effectively and believes placing close allies he trusts, including his beloved -daughter, can improve the way the organization is run — and in a way that is in sync with Trump and his campaign as they look toward the general election. Critics inside and outside the RNC say it would also eliminate any dissent within the party toward Trump, and they say such measures would not address the trajectory of GOP losses over the past few years. electoral cycles.
The positions of chair and co-chair are not appointments – Whatley and Lara Trump must be elected by RNC committee members. The party’s elections are expected after Ronna McDaniel resigns as RNC chairwoman, which is expected to happen after the South Carolina Republican primary on February 24.
Nikki Haley’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankeny, called the measures “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”
“Nikki Haley’s plan for the RNC? Blow it all up,” Ankeny said. “Everyone at the RNC will be fired, there will be a full audit for misuse of funds, and there will be a formal application process to become RNC chair based on MERIT, not on the back. The era of overpaid consultants enriching the RNC while losing elections will be over, and Republicans will finally get back to WINNING.”
The shakeup comes amid poor fundraising numbers and party underperformance in recent national elections under the leadership of Ronna McDaniel, the current RNC chair. McDaniel has led the RNC since 2017, andas president in January.
The RNC had its worst fundraising year in a decade and entered 2024 with just $8 million in its coffers, its lowest cash flow since 2014, according to FEC reports.
McDaniel met with Trump last week at his Mar-a-Lago home, where sources told CBS News that McDaniel assured Trump that she was a “team player” and would do what was in the best interest of the party, including resigning from her position as president.
After the meeting, Trump announced that he would make a decision on the future of the RNC leadership after the South Carolina primary on February 24.
The New York Times first reported that Trump was considering tapping Whatley to lead the RNC.
Whatley echoed Trump’s unproven claims of fraud following the 2020 election, saying in a North Carolina radio interview that “we know massive fraud took place.” He currently works at the RNC as the group’s general counsel, working on “election integrity” efforts.
Lara Trump, who is married to Trump’s second son Eric, was featured prominently on Trump’s campaign trail ahead of the Iowa caucuses and has been touted as a 2022 U.S. Senate candidate from North Carolina.
LaCivita is a longtime Republican operative who has worked on a number of state and federal campaigns, including Sen. Rand Paul’s 2016 presidential campaign. He worked as a senior strategist at the pro-Trump super PAC Make America Great Again Inc. before joining Trump’s 2022 re-election campaign.