RNC elects Trump's pick as previous president tightens party power. (Part-1)

Houston — The Republican National Committee approved Donald Trump's leadership team on Friday, completing his takeover of the party as he seeks a third presidential nomination.

In Houston on Friday morning, North Carolina Republican Michael Whatley, who has echoed Trump's voter fraud claims, was named national chairman. Former president Donald Trump's daughter-in-law Lara Trump was elected co-chair. Trump's staff won't utilize the RNC for his rising legal fees. Trump and his allies will control the party's political and fundraising infrastructure with no internal opposition.

“The RNC is going to be the vanguard of a movement that will work tirelessly every single day to elect our nominee, Donald J. Trump, as the 47th President of the United States,” Whatley told RNC members after being chosen. Whatley will replace Ronna McDaniel as chair after she fell out of favor with key figures in the former president's “Make America Great Again” organization. However, Trump supporters will surround him. Lara Trump will likely focus on fundraising and media appearances.

After being elected, she held out a $100,000 check in her debut speech as co-chair, saying the party had received it that day. She refused to identify the checkwriter when questioned by a reporter. While serving as one of the Trump campaign's top two advisers, Chris LaCivita will lead the RNC as chief of staff.

Trump appointed McDaniel to lead the committee seven years ago, but his MAGA movement criticized her for losses in recent years. She told members in her parting speech Friday that she concerns most about “internal cohesion” before the election.

“We have to stop attacking other Republicans,” she stated. We guarantee the Democrats will win if we spend our time criticizing each other.” She advised the party to court independent and swing voters, saying, “We don’t win if we only talk to each other.”

After her goodbye, McDaniel received a standing ovation, but the new leadership warmly embraced the shift, and Lara Trump, accompanied by her husband, Eric Trump, was treated like a celebrity with members lining up to snap selfies with her. LaCivita promises to make major adjustments and staffing changes at every level of the RNC with Trump's approval to make it work smoothly as an extension of the campaign.

In an interview Thursday, LaCivita tried to allay RNC members' fears that the already-strapped body would pay Trump's legal fees. Trump is fighting a $355 million civil fraud judgment and four criminal indictments with 91 counts. His Save America PAC has spent $76 million on lawyers in the past two years.

LaCivita said some speculate about the RNC paying legal fees “purely on the basis of trying to hurt donors.” A second political corporation, Save America, pays most of Trump's legal expenditures. “No penny of the RNC's or campaign's money has gone or will go to pay legal fees,” he claimed.

The Washington Post reported that the RNC was paying some of Trump's New York legal fees while he was president, but McDaniel claimed in November 2022 that the RNC would stop paying once Trump ran again in 2024.