As President Trump brazenly seeks to delay the certification of the election in hopes of overturning his defeat, he is also mounting a less high-profile but similarly audacious bid to keep control of the Republican National Committee even after he leaves office.
Ronna McDaniel, Mr. Trump’s handpicked chairwoman, has secured the president’s support for her re-election to another term in January, when the party is expected to gather for its winter meeting. But 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 many Republicans are hesitant to openly criticize their president at a moment when he is refusing to admit he has lost, the debate crystallizes the larger question about the party’s identity and whether it will operate as a vessel for Mr. Trump’s ambitions to run again in four years.
Mr. Trump will have no political infrastructure once he leaves office except for a political action committee he recently formed, and absent a formal campaign, he is hoping to lean on the R.N.C. to effectively give him one, people familiar with his thinking said.
The continuing influence of Mr. Trump could also have implications for some of the national committee’s most critical assets: 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.
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. [Continue reading…]