Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida on February 28, 2021.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump is competing with the GOP’s fundraiser and beating its members, further complicating his status as the Republican Party leader.
“No more money for RINOs,” Trump said in a donation email Monday night, referring to “Republicans on behalf only,” a term used to beat up moderate GOP politicians accused of how Rule Democrats.
Trump, without specifying his goals by name, claimed that they “are doing nothing but violate the Republican Party and our large electoral base – they will never lead us to greatness.”
In an overt attempt to clarify this, Trump made a follow-up statement Tuesday afternoon in which he said, “I fully support the Republican Party and key GOP committees, but I do not support RINOs and fools.”
Trump added that “it is not their right to use my likeness or image to fundraise” – a reference to his growing feud with the Republican Party over the use of his name and likeness in their fundraising drives.
Both statements were sent by Trump’s Save America Political Action Committee, and both statements urged his supporters to donate to this PAC. “So much money is being raised and completely wasted by people who do not have the interests of the GOP in mind,” said Trump’s latest statement.
These inquiries reflected Trump’s recent Orlando speech – his first public statement after the presidency – in which he told a crowd of supporters that his own PAC was the only way to vote America First Republican Conservatives.
Redirecting Republican cash flow into his own war chest, if successful, could help Trump gain a grip on the party in order to undermine his perceived enemies therein. However, experts say promoting his own PAC could bring other benefits for Trump as well.
PACs like Save America can raise funds for political expenses like supporting candidates, and Trump could use it to lay the foundation for a presidential campaign in 2024. But they “can be used for almost anything else,” said Brendan Fischer. Director of the Federal Reform Program at the Campaign Legal Center.
“Given the amount of money raised, it is entirely possible that Trump could use Save America to maintain control and influence over the Republican Party and to personally help himself and his family members,” Fischer said in an interview with CNBC.
The Associated Press reported in early March that Save America had more than $ 80 million in cash.
Trump, who never officially admitted defeat to President Joe Biden, has barely resigned from politics since his tenure ended on Jan. 20. Trump has now presented himself as the de facto leader and future of his party at his Palm Beach, Florida home, while regularly targeting prominent Republicans who are still in office.
Even if Trump teases a possible 2024 presidential campaign on the Republican ticket, he is urging the Republican National Committee to stop using his name and image in their donation messages.
Trump’s attorneys sent cease and desist letters to the RNC, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senate Committee on Friday, NBC News reported.
On Monday, RNC chief attorney J. Justin Riemer denied the request, telling Save America attorney Alex Cannon that Trump and RNC chairman Ronna McDaniel had settled the dispute.
“We understand that President Trump has reaffirmed this [McDaniel] over the weekend he approves the RNC’s current use of his name for fundraising and other materials, including our upcoming Palm Beach donor retreat event that we look forward to seeing, “Riemer wrote in a letter to Cannon.
The letter, passed on to CNBC by the RNC, stated that the committee “has not sent or used his image on President Trump’s behalf or used his image since he left office, and would not do without his prior consent.”
Riemer added, “The RNC has, of course, the right to refer to public figures when it comes to a key political speech protected by First Amendment, and will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals. “
Trump’s Monday night email deciphering “RINOs” and asking for donations to the Save America PAC appeared to contradict Riemer’s claim that Trump and McDaniel had reached an agreement on the matter.
A Trump spokesman did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the back and forth with the RNC. A contact for the Save America PAC did not respond to a request for comment.
The Republicans lost the White House and the Senate majority after Trump’s presidency. But the Republican Party and many of its leaders have allied themselves closely with Trump, whose popularity continues among huge segments of the GOP electorate.
Some Republicans have openly condemned Trump for his behavior before and after the January 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol, which resulted in five deaths and forced a joint session of Congress to go into hiding. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, said in late February, “I don’t think so [Trump] should play a role in the future of the party or the country. “
But more Republicans have avoided criticizing Trump even after the invasion, which appeared to have little impact on the former president’s general support at his base. Others who initially distanced themselves from Trump after the deadly uprising, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, later reiterated their support for him.
Even Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Who convicted Trump of false conspiracies for election theft, recently said he would “absolutely” support Trump if he became a GOP candidate in 2024.
Meanwhile, numerous other Republicans who allegedly have presidential ambitions appear to have taken steps to launch their own campaigns while being careful not to cross Trump.
Former Vice President Mike Pence is reportedly heading to South Carolina, a major state on the president’s main map, next month to deliver his first public address since leaving office.