Trump is Tightening His Grip on the GOP
Deplatformed from his social media accounts, Trump maintained an eerie silence after the insurrection in January. The silence continued after he retreated to Mar-a-Lago on the day of Biden’s inauguration.
It may have seemed like he was silent, but in reality he was furiously working behind the scenes to maintain his leadership of the Republican Party. He set up an Office of the Former President “to carry on the agenda of the Trump administration.” He printed stationery with a seal that was a direct knockoff of the presidential seal.
He insisted that any Republican who was running for office and wanted his endorsement, meaning wanted his voters, had to personally visit him at Mar-a-Lago.
He made plans for what he called his Revenge Tour, campaign events in support of his handpicked, MAGA approved candidates running against Republican incumbents who voted for his impeachment and conviction.
Then, after weeks of silence, Trump reemerged on to the national stage first giving interviews about Rush Limbaugh’s death followed by a triumphant return at CPAC five days later.
Where he tightened his grip on the party.
For the first time in his political career, he directly asked for donations. It happened at the end of his 90 minute speech when he had the audience eating out of hand.
“There’s only one way to contribute to our efforts, to elect ‘America first’ Republican conservatives. And in turn, to make America great again. And that’s through Save America PAC and Donald J Trump dot com.”
And they ate it up. Millions in small donations poured in.
Prior to this, Trump had always been careful not to ask for donations because he didn’t want to interfere with the fundraising efforts of the Republican Party. Instead, he raised cash selling MAGA hats and other swag.
The Republican Party has had a very successful small donor program for years. Now those donors are being asked by their hero Trump to make their donations directly to him.
This is not just a problem of siphoning off money from the party. Once the money hits Trump’s coffers, both his PAC and his donaldjtrump website are structured so that he can use the funds for whatever he wants such as paying his campaign expenses, paying himself a salary or paying the campaign expenses of his handpicked MAGA candidates running against Republican incumbents in the 2022 primaries.
In plain English, he can use the millions of dollars he raises through small donations from his supporters against the Republican Party especially the candidates he has targeted who voted for his impeachment or were critical of him in the past.
Trump has told Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee Chair, that he is willing to make appearances to help raise money from larger donors, but you have to wonder where those donations will go? To the party or to Trump’s PAC?
Trump has now moved on from controlling who will run to controlling the purse strings of the Republican Party. All of this is in service of his 2024 run for the presidency. Candidates that he supports in 2022 will owe him and his supporters will be accustomed to donating directly to him.
At that point, Trump will be the Republican Party. All candidates will have to be approved by him. Campaign funds will be directed by him. And just like in 2020, he will control the party platform.
I know what you are thinking: but what about the criminal and civil charges? They take time. This isn’t like an episode of Law & Order. It won’t be neatly wrapped up in an hour. Sometimes it can be years before those cases even get to court. And then if Trump is convicted, there will be endless appeals which can also take years.
And of course, if he is elected president it all stops. Because you can’t prosecute a sitting president. That’s what he is hoping for. What he craves. The immunity of the presidency.