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Trump puts the Republican Party under his thumb

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits Archives via Agence France-Presse Donald Trump placed three of his relatives, including his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, at the head of the political party. In the photo, they are both seen in Greenville, North Carolina, in 2021.

Fabien Deglise

March 11, 2024 Analysis

  • United States

Donald Trump completed his takeover of the Republican Party last Friday by placing three of his close friends, including his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, at the head of the political party.

The calculated scenario now gives the populist total control over the political mechanisms of the organization, as well as over fundraising, but also over its spending, which the ex-president, now last Tuesday, the almost assured candidate of the Republicans for the next presidential election, could be tempted to use it to cover the high legal costs which accompany his new electoral campaign.

A controversial allocation of resources, in the service of the candidate who faces 91 criminal charges, and which should now be played out in a framework where internal resistance is, following this change of guard, almost non-existent, deplore several critical voices of the American conservative movement.

“I feel like [the Republican National Committee] has officially and openly become Donald Trump's Legal Spending Fund,” Mike Pence's former legal adviser said Saturday. national security, Olivia Troye, on the American network MSNBC, while calling on “Republican and independent voters to stop donating to the party”.

“The foundations of the Republican Party and conservatism have been completely shaken and twisted by an insane amount of misinformation,” she added. The [Committee] should be renamed to express what it now only stands for: Trumpism. »

On her way to the vice-presidency of the political party, which the Committee meeting in Houston, Texas, granted her last Friday, at the request of the former president, Lara Trump has not hidden her intentions to tilt the party in favor of financing his father-in-law's increasingly high legal bills. The former reality TV star is surrounded by American justice in four separate criminal cases, among other things for having tried to stay in power by orchestrating an insurrection in 2021 and for having sought to steal the results of the vote in Georgia, which gave the keys to the White House to Joe Biden during the last presidential election. He is also being dragged before the courts in several civil cases.

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From South Carolina at the end of February, Lara Trump said she believed that Republican voters would be in favor of the Committee paying her father-in-law's growing legal costs, because They consider these prosecutions to be “political persecution,” she said, repeating the victimization discourse used by the former president to rally his followers.

“That’s why people are furious right now. They feel like this is an attack not just on Donald Trump, but on this country,” she added.

Money and nepotism

According to Lara Trump, the presence of a member of the billionaire's family at the head of the political party should “reinforce the confidence” of Republicans in the political party, whose presidency was entrusted on Friday to Michael Whatley, a North Carolina Republican who has been a voice for Donald Trump's erroneous theories about election fraud.

“I can assure you of my loyalty to my father-in-law and I will ensure that every cent is used correctly,” added his daughter-in-law.

In 2021, the Republican National Committee agreed to pay part of the ex-president's legal costs for his defense against the State of New York, which then accused him of having manipulated the finances of his real estate empire. In this case, Donald Trump was sentenced on February 16 to pay a fine of $355 million for conspiracy.

The former president of the political party Ronna McDaniel announced in 2022 that the party would no longer assume this type of expense as soon as the ex-president becomes a candidate for the White House again and launches in campaign. She subsequently left the populist's good graces, before being pushed towards the exit door on March 8, under the pretext of a poor fundraising record, according to Donald Trump's entourage.

Heavy bills

The legal setbacks are costly for the man who will likely be a Republican candidate, a rare president ousted after a single term (in 2020), who has spent more than $50 million on legal fees in 2023 alone collected from his donors, according to documents filed by his campaign managers before the Federal Election Commission last February.

This money comes primarily from Donald Trump's campaign support groups, called Make America Great Again and Save America, which the populist regularly uses to challenge his base and invite them to donate generously to help him defend himself against the persecution of which he claims to be a victim. Even if the populist's ability to attract donors does not diminish, he nevertheless appears to have entered the 2024 election year with less cash than President Joe Biden.

Last week, Donald Trump secured a $91.6 million bond from U.S. insurance giant Chubb to cover money he owes E. Jean Carroll after his conviction in a defamation lawsuit brought by the journalist. The verdict was appealed by the populist.

He has until March 30 to raise another bond, this time for $500 million, in the Trump Organization fraud and conspiracy case, which he has also appealed.

Last week, Chris LaCivita, one of Donald Trump's two advisers in his race to the White House, who has just been elected director of operations of the Republican Party, warned that radical changes and personnel movements at all levels of political training were going to take place “to guarantee its proper functioning” and support the candidacy of the ex-president. However, he assured that the payment of his legal bills was not part of the current projects, while condemning “speculations” aimed “solely at scaring donors”.

An assurance that a Mississippi member of the Republican National Committee, Henry Barbour, would have liked to enshrine in a resolution prohibiting the political organization from paying the legal fees of candidates for federal or state office. For more confidence, but in vain.

“Republican National Committee funds should be spent only on the party winning elections, on political expenses, not on paying legal bills,” he said days before last Friday's committee meeting. . His project fell through: his resolution could not be brought before the members, due to lack of having been sponsored by 10 States as required by the statutes of the political party, now in the hands of the former -president.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116