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Trump, Republican committees at loggerheads

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By Ashe Oneil

Washington, Jul 30 (IANS): Former US President Donald Trump and the Republican committees seem engaged in a battle of wits with the Republican National Committee (RNC) saying it will cease funding his legal bills if he chose to announce his candidacy for 2024 too early. Thats before the mid-terms on November 8 this year.

Trump will lose RNC funding for legal bills if he announces 2024 candidacy, says Fox News in a report claiming that top-level Republicans have encouraged the former leader not to announce his 2024 candidacy until after the mid-terms of the House of Representatives’ elections.

Trump tried to preempt the January 6 Capitol riot panel reports expected September by announcing his candidacy before so as to leverage his strength in the GOP to get his nomination for the presidential run.

The Republicans have warned Trump any attempt to make an announcement earlier than fall or before the mid-terms could be disastrous for the party as it would water down the campaign on the economy turning bad due to the inept administration of Joe Biden’s presidency that the party has been building up to edge out the democrats and retake the 435-member House.

Trump seems to think announcing early his candidacy gives him much greater leverage as he was able to get all his candidates in GOP primaries nominated even as the Congressional committee on the Capitol riot was tearing him to pieces with video evidence of his involvement in the attack and doing nothing about it to stop it.

Trump dubbed the hearings as a “witch hunt” by a political party against a former president in the theatre of politics orchestrated by the democratic party for a televised audience.

The RNC is currently bankrolling several legal cases for Trump, including personal lawsuits and government investigations into him. That flow of cash would end once he announces his candidacy for president in 2024, according to ABC News. Some see the move as an incentive for Trump to delay announcing his candidacy at least until after the 2022 midterm elections, which Republicans already seemed poised to win.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel had previously stated that the Republican Party cannot be biased in favor of any one candidate in the party’s presidential primary. “The party has to stay neutral,” McDaniel said as early as in January this year. “I’m not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024.”

Top-level members of the Republican Party have tried to influence Trump to delay announcing his candidacy until after the mid-terms. Many read that Republicans fear that a Trump announcement would upset the status quo of voters focused on inflation, gas prices and President Joe Biden’s low approval rating. “My point to him has always been, ‘Let’s go win ’22’,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Tuesday of his conversations with Trump, adding that he encouraged Trump to hold off on an announcement.

Trump stated earlier this month that he has already made up his mind on whether to run, and that the main decision is now whether he will announce before or after the midterms.

According to a Washington Examiner finding, the RNC has paid almost $2 million in legal fees for the former president as he faces different investigations into his financial dealings and conduct during the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. A committee official told ABC News those payments will end soon after Trump announces a reelection bid because of the RNC’s policies on maintaining neutrality in elections, meaning if the former president announces a bid too soon, the RNC could stop contributing to his legal costs.

Trump has repeatedly teased a third bid for the White House, boosting those rumors even further during a speech in Washington, D.C., this week.

“I won the second time. I did much better the second time,” Trump said at the America First Agenda Summit. “We may just have to do it again.”

The RNC has paid much of Trump’s legal costs, giving at least $1.73 million to three law firms representing the former president between October 2021 and June, as well as a $50,000 payment last month, according to the report. The committee has used payments for the former president’s legal challenges as leverage before. The RNC once reportedly threatened to stop paying for several of his post-election court challenges during a dispute after the 2020 election, according to a book from ABC News chief Washington co

The RNC has been helping Trump pay his legal bills but will pull the plug once he kicks off his 2024 campaign.

In 2021, the RNC committed to paying nearly $2 million in Trump’s legal bills. Some Republicans worry Trump announcing his 2024 bid may torpedo the GOP’s midterm chances.

Former GOP official Kurt Bardella dubbed Trump as being impulsive and lacking control thereby speculating that he could announce his run early given the mounting criticism he’s facing. A Trump announcement could also be a means for the former president to rescue himself from the damning testimonies from witnesses during the January 6 committee’s public hearings.

Trump has teased a presidential run numerous times. In January, a video run showed Trump calling himself the “45th and 47th president”. Trump however dismissed them as fake news.

As Trump lives in the self-belief that he has successfully trumpified the republican party getting all but most of his candidates nominated to the Nov 08 mid-terms this year despite the Capitol riot hearings. In 2021, Trump had gone on the offensive when he issued letters to three republican committees to cease and desist from using his name for fund raising. he believes no mudslinging on his larger than life image can stick, and that he is the only viable alternative to beat Biden at his game, the examiner said.

Reports of media coverage on Trump soon after his defeat in the 2020 polls showed that Trump had been angry that some groups in the Republican party could use his name to support Republicans who voted to impeach him a second time. Ten Republican members of Congress voted to impeach Trump in the House, and seven Republican senators voted with Democrats to find the former president guilty of inciting riot.

Despite dissent within the Republican Party, Trump continues to assert himself as its leader.

To recall, Trump had said his “America First” movement was just getting started, and speaker after speaker affirmed him as the future of the party. A demand that the GOP’s largest fundraising groups not raise money off Trump’s name could complicate Republicans’ efforts to take back the White House, Senate and House, as Trump has promised they will.

Trump is no stranger to the cease-and-desist letters that threaten litigation in his business, campaign and presidency. As early as in 2015, Trump’s campaign accused the conservative Club for Growth of running a defamatory ad against him and threatened a lawsuit if they didn’t stop airing it.

In 2018, Trump’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to his former chief strategist Steve Bannon after Bannon was quoted in a Michael Wolff book describing a Trump Tower meeting as “treasonous” and “unpatriotic”. Legal action was “imminent,” his lawyers said then. Trump’s attorneys also sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wolff and his publisher, Steve Rubin, demanding that they halt publication and release of Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”. (The effort was unsuccessful.

The same Steve Bannon, a Trump strategist and allegedly involved in the Jan 06 uprising has been convicted for contempt of court not to heed to the subpoenas issued against him by the panel that said “he (Bannon) thought he was above the law”.

Coming months, we can see interesting developments unfold as the panel releases its report indicting Trump for the insurrection and how voters react in the midterms.