In a Monday letter to Trump attorney Alex Cannon, RNC chief counsel J. Justin Riemer said the committee “has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech” and said “it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals.”
But he maintained that Trump had also “reaffirmed” to the chair of the RNC, Ronna McDaniel, over the weekend “that he approves of the RNC’s current use of his name in fundraising and other materials, including for our upcoming donor retreat event at Palm Beach at which we look forward to him participating.”
The flap reflects tension within the GOP Establishment in the months after Trump left the White House.
Several high-ranking current congressional leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Republican Conference Chair Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming have had particularly harsh criticism of Trump following the Jan. 6 uprising at the US Capitol.
Meanwhile, the party is eager to tap into his popularity among the Republican base to raise money ahead of next year’s midterms. But that runs counter to Trump’s instinct to control the use of his name and image as he aims to position himself as the undisputed leader of the GOP.
In his first major speech since leaving office, Trump urged his supporters to give their money to Save America, his political action committee, instead of the GOP’s traditional fundraising organizations.
And on Friday, his group sent letters to the RNC and others asking them to “immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of President Donald J. Trump’s name, image, and/or likeness in all fundraising, persuasion, and/or issue speech,” according to the RNC letter.
The House and Senate Republican campaign committees and a Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The RNC and Trump’s campaign worked hand-in-hand during the 2020 election, including raising money through a joint fundraising committee. And ties between them remain.
Trump is scheduled to speak at the RNC’s spring donor retreat in April in Palm Beach and has told McDaniel that he wants to continue raising money for the RNC even as he amasses cash for his own pursuits. That includes exacting revenge by backing challengers to Republican incumbents who crossed him by voting to impeach him for inciting the Capitol riot.
Despite the letters, the RNC and others have continued to fundraise off of Trump’s name.
“CONGRATULATIONS! You have been selected as one of the FIRST to be invited to claim your Trump Legacy Membership,” the RNC wrote in one appeal on Sunday.
“We NEED 10,000 patriots who still stand with President Trump before midnight tonight,” “URGENT: TRUMP SUPPORTERS NEEDED,” added the National Republican Senatorial Committee Monday afternoon.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press