NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump called Monday night for a leadership change at the Republican National Committee in an attempt to install a new slate of loyalists — including his daughter-in-law — at the top of the GOP's political machine even before he formally secures the party's next presidential nomination.
Current RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel says she has no plans to leave the committee until at least after South Carolina’s Feb. 24 primary election.
Still, Trump is calling for McDaniel to be replaced by Michael Whatley, the North Carolina GOP chairman. The new co-chair, Trump said, should be his daughter-in-law Lara Trump.
Trump outlined his plans on social media, although they carry no official weight until he is the party's presumed presidential nominee.
“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 wrote. “Every penny will be used properly. New Day.”
RNC spokesman Keith Schipper said McDaniel had no immediate plans to step down.
“Chairwoman McDaniel has been on the road helping elect Republicans up and down the ballot and she will continue working hard to beat Biden this fall. Nothing has changed, and there will be no decision or announcement about future plans until after South Carolina," he said.
Whatley, who serves as general counsel to the RNC, has taken credit for hiring a large contingent of lawyers ahead of the 2020 election, which he has said stymied Democratic efforts to commit voter fraud. He failed in his bid last year to become the RNC co-chair despite earning Trump’s endorsement.
Lara Trump is married to Trump’s middle son, Eric, and has taken an especially active role in all three of her father-in-law’s campaigns. She briefly considered running for Senate in her home state of North Carolina in 2022, but decided against it, saying she wanted to spend more time with her young children.
Steve Peoples, The Associated Press