Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is quietly considering options for how to replace the Republican National Committee if he becomes the GOP nominee, as expected, including options that include and exclude current chair Ronna McDaniel.
Two sources familiar with the plan, including a Trump adviser, told NBC News that Trump’s political establishment is considering a plan that would essentially create two separate organizations: McDaniel would leave as chairman, but he would essentially be a figurehead. At the same time, staff closely associated with Trump will also be established and have significant power over party operations.
Under the plan, two co-chairs of Trump’s choosing would be appointed – one to oversee fundraising and the other to oversee party operations. One source named former RNC Chairman Reince Preibus, former Trump administration official and major GOP donor Linda McMahon and casino mogul Steve Wynn as possibilities to run the fundraising side, while both sources said the operational side would almost certainly be top-level management. Trump adviser Chris LaCivita.
“He’s from Washington. I think he likes it,” Trump’s advisor said of LaCivita.
Under the proposal, McDaniel would technically remain chairman, but he would have to coordinate nearly all of his major decisions with Trump’s appointees.
Starting in 2016, “They merged the DNA of the president’s campaign and the RNC,” a GOP operative said. The reason for LaCivita’s involvement is to “maintain the regulatory status quo,” the person added.
Neither LaCivita nor an RNC spokeswoman responded to requests for comment.
Another option still on the table is McDaniel’s resignation, which would force a tense and high-profile special election that would require 168 voting members from across the country to elect a new seat to the same chamber.
Trump, like any presidential candidate, cannot technically fire the RNC chair. But he revealed that he was already looking for a change at the top, putting more pressure on McDaniel.
“The big question for the next few weeks is going to be, does Ronna stay and layer up or does she quit completely?” Trump’s adviser said. “Once they [Trump and the campaign] if he makes this decision, we will start to see the action.”
A Trump ally also said the former president often favored schemes that would save people.
“The best kept secret about Trump is that he doesn’t really like to fire people,” said a Trump ally.
“The majority of RNC voting members don’t like Ronna, but they will do what the president asks,” said one GOP operative. “So if the president says stick with it, they’re going to stick with it. If he says I don’t trust him anymore and he has to go, and someone who agrees with him and fits the campaign is nominated, they will vote yes to fire him and appoint this new person.”
McDaniel’s role at the RNC has been the focus of a sustained chorus of criticism in recent weeks from some RNC members who have laid the blame for the party’s financial woes and any perceived party problems at his feet.
Most notably, his biggest rivals within the party blame him for the Republicans’ lack of a good national election cycle since 2016, and the fact that the party ended 2023 with just $8 million in the bank, compared to $21 million for the Democratic National Committee.
Those fault lines were on display last week in Las Vegas, where Turning Points USA, an influential conservative group led by vocal McDaniel critic Charlie Kirk, held its own event to air complaints about McDaniel’s performance. The group, which came together just days before the RNC winter meetings in the same city, became the largest organization rallying around the idea of ousting McDaniel — though anti-McDaniel sentiment has also gained some traction within RNC ranks.
According to two sources in the room, the members-only RNC meetings have sometimes become a venue for McDaniel’s critics to address each other face-to-face, as was the case last week at a members-only breakfast at the Paris Hotel and Casino. .
During the meeting, some members, led by Kansas GOP Chairman Mike Brown, pressed McDaniel to release his RNC credit card statements as a show of financial transparency about party spending.
McDaniel during the 2022 leadership race faced Negative stories about RNC spending prompted Trump’s top campaign aide, Susie Wiles, to defend him.
“There was real tension between several members and Chairman McDaniel,” said one member in the room, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak publicly. “Words were exchanged and frustrations were high. It’s clear that a group wants some change with the RNC, and the current chairman is unwilling to understand the concerns of some of its members.
Brown did not respond to a request for comment.
McDaniel defended himself, but several of his supporters in the room supported him, another RNC member at the breakfast told NBC News.
“It escalated in moments,” said a second member. “It was an interesting way to start the weekend.”
McDaniel easily re-elected He entered his fourth term in January 2023 and continues to have a significant support base among members.
“I’m not going to go into what goes on in the member’s only meetings,” a McDaniel supporter said at the breakfast last week. “But I will say that Ronna McDaniel will go down in history as the best local chairwoman the party has ever had. He has collected a lot of money and is very good at it.”
“Bidennomics hasn’t been good for anyone, we all go grocery shopping and prices go up,” he said. “When you’re a small dollar donor [to the RNC]that’s the first thing that gets cut.”
Person also complained that high-profile battles over party leadership can be self-defeating, something Republicans have generally focused on in recent years.
“Democrats don’t do what we do, many probably don’t even know who the DNC chair is,” the person said. “Holding that name out there is unfortunately how some people make their money.”
Trump, who? handpicked McDaniel, who will run the party in 2016, has done nothing in recent days to quell rumors of McDaniel’s potential death. The weekend said:some changes” The Republican would come to the RNC if he were the nominee, and on Monday night he acknowledged something is coming — but likely after the Feb. 24 primary in South Carolina.
“Things are looking great in the 2024 presidential race against crooked Joe Biden,” Trump wrote on Truth Social on Monday. “Ronna is now head of the RNC and I will make a decision on my recommendation to grow the RNC the day after the South Carolina Primary.”
Fueling the palace intrigue over whether McDaniel’s days as RNC chairman are numbered was a meeting with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Monday night, a meeting that clashed with the party’s ongoing leadership drama, immediately stirring speculation that Trump had called McDaniel. discuss his future or not as party chairman.
Two Trump allies familiar with the former president’s thinking played down the idea that the meeting was a signal that McDaniel was out or that a shakeup was imminent.
“It was a changed meeting from the previous time. It wasn’t a big deal,” he said. “I think so [some changes] It will be after South Carolina, but no one knows for sure.
The person said McDaniel “may still have a lot of room” at the RNC, just that there will be others with leadership responsibilities.
“Nobody knows exactly what’s on it [Trump’s] mind,” they added. “We’ll have to wait and see.”