Trump endorses new RNC chair and Lara Trump as co-chair

Trump endorses new RNC chair and Lara Trump as co-chair

Former President Donald Trump will support North Carolina GOP Chair Michael Whatley to succeed Ronna McDaniel as the leader of the Republican National Committee, according to a Republican operative familiar with Trump’s decision.

Trump’s endorsement of Whatley formally cements his push to see a change atop the committee after weeks of reports that he had grown frustrated with McDaniel.

In addition to the Whatley nod, Trump will also support Lara Trump, the former president’s daughter-in-law, to serve as the RNC’s co-chairwoman. Lara Trump has long been an on-air surrogate for the ex-president, and during the 2022 campaign was briefly mentioned as a possible North Carolina Senate candidate.

The endorsement does not mean that either Whatley or Lara Trump will automatically be given those posts. The committee must hold a vote among its members should McDaniel step down, as she is expected to shortly after the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24. But that will likely be a formality, as the party members are almost certain to support the preferences of the candidate set to the presidential nominee.

As part of his effort to restructure the RNC, Trump will also tap Chris LaCivita to serve as RNC chief operating officer, according to the GOP operative, who was granted anonymity to speak freely. LaCivita will also maintain his role as co-campaign manager of the Trump campaign. The staff changes will be effective once a new chair takes office.

“The RNC MUST be a good partner in the Presidential election. It must do the work we expect from the national Party and do it flawlessly,” Trump said in a statement. “That means helping to ensure fair and transparent elections across the country, getting out the vote everywhere — even in parts of the country where it won’t be easy — and working with my campaign, as the Republican presumptive nominee for President, to win this election and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Trump’s pick of Whatley was made, in part, because of the North Carolinians’ focus on one of the former president’s pet causes: baseless allegations of election fraud. Whatley has argued that elections are prone to fraud. He has also defended Trump over his involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, stressing that it was the rioters — not the then president — who were to blame.

Whatley also pushed to censure then Sen. Richard Burr for his decision to vote for Trump’s second impeachment.

The changes stem from conversations between Trump and his advisers over the last few weeks about the future of the RNC.

In his new role, LaCivita will split his time between Trump headquarters in Palm Beach, Florida and the RNC offices in Washington, D.C. LaCivita, a former Virginia GOP executive director who consulted the RNC during the 2016 election, will undertake the role of focusing the committee on battleground states.

The New York Times and Fox News earlier reported Trump’s anticipated support for Whatley.

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