Thursday, July 28, 2022

Who Blinks First?

Curb your enthusiasm.

But an RNC official told ABC News that as soon as Trump would announce he is running for president, the payments would stop because the party has a "neutrality policy" that prohibits it from taking sides in the presidential primary.

"I'm not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024," she added. However she has since reaffirmed that Trump "still leads the party."


This isn't the first time that legal bills have been seen as possible leverage over Trump.

According to the book "Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show," by ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent Jonathan Karl, in the final days of Trump's presidency, Trump told McDaniel he was leaving the GOP and creating his own political party -- only to back down after McDaniel made it clear to Trump that the party would stop paying his legal bills for his post-election challenges and take other steps that would cost him financially.

According to the RNC's most recent financial disclosure to the Federal Elections Commission, from October 2021 through June of this year, the RNC paid at least $1.73 million to three law firms representing Trump, including firms that are defending him in investigations into his personal family business in New York. Last month alone, the RNC paid $50,000 to a law firm representing Trump in June.

The latest tally tops the $1.6 million maximum figure that the Republican Party's executive committee reportedly voted to cover for Trump's personal legal bills during an RNC meeting last year, a figure that The Washington Post, which first reported on the agreement in December, wrote could increase further with the party executive committee's approval.

The RNC reported payments to law firms representing Trump as recently as mid-June, indicating the party leadership's unfettered support for the former president and heightening critics' concerns about the party's neutrality ahead of the 2024 presidential primary season.

Follow the money:

"The RNC needs Trump or Trump surrogates or Trump's likeness to raise money, and Trump wants them to continue paying his bills and be as pro-Trump as possible," Eberhart said. "So neither is in a hurry to cut the umbilical cord."

The RNC has continued to fundraise off of Trump's name in its emails to supporters, touting a so-called "Trump Life Membership," boosting his social media platform, and, most recently, promoting Trump's first visit to Washington, D.C., since January of last year. Other potential 2024 presidential candidates and key party figures like former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have not received the same spotlight as Trump, experts say.


Eberhart said "it's an open secret" within the Republican Party that "nobody wants Trump to announce his candidacy until after the midterms."

"Everyone thinks it'll scramble the midterms and we could potentially destroy the advantage we have" if Trump would announce too early, Eberhart said. "It makes Trump more relevant and gives the Dems potentially a way to reset the race."

But will the RNC give up the money?  Decisions, decisions....

Meanwhile, and not coincidentally: 

Back to the primary question: who blinks first?

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