According to a report from the New York Times, Donald Trump is quietly working behind the scenes to maintain control of the Republican party -- and some of its most valuable assets -- after he leaves office.
With the president on his way out, he has endorsed the continuing tenure of Republican National Committee head Ronna Romney McDaniel who has become one of his most avid defenders. The Times reports, "her intention to run with Mr. Trump’s blessing has incited a behind-the-scenes proxy battle, dividing Republicans between those who believe the national party should not be a political subsidiary of the outgoing president and others happy for Mr. Trump to remain in control of it."
While some Republicans are happy with Trump remaining the face of the party, others are panicked that the GOP will be nothing but "a vessel for Mr. Trump’s ambitions to run again in four years."
Equally worrying would be Trump's access and control of the party's most valuable asset: its mailing list of members and donors.
"Its voter data and donors lists contain thousands of names of contributors and detailed information about supporters. The voter data in particular is a focus of attention, after distrust arose between the committee and the Trump campaign over the data’s use in the final months of the campaign," the report states. "While the committee and the Trump campaign are in the process of untangling joint agreements over access to that information, Mr. Trump sees control of the lists that he helped build over the past four years as a way to keep a grip on power — and to neutralize potential challengers for supremacy over the party, according to Republicans close to the White House."
That has many Republicans alarmed that they may never get out from under the thumb of the president who has no qualms about destroying fellow Republicans if he feels they are disloyal to him.
"Senior Republican officials close to Ms. McDaniel said they were already seeking new arrangements between the R.N.C. and the Trump campaign over the donor and data lists, which would provide Mr. Trump with copies of certain lists but also leave them available to other candidates through the committee," Times reports. "Beyond that, these Republicans said, there are limits to how influential the R.N.C. can be in party primaries."
According to Mike DuHaime, RNC political director during George W. Bush’s presidency, he's not surprised that Trump would try to main control but questioned what might happen.
“It has the potential for great value in terms of a platform, fund-raising and relationship building,” he explained. “However I’ve never seen a former president try to maintain that control, so I’ll have to research the post-presidency actions of Grover Cleveland to see how he did it.”
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