Source: Jeff Charles
During his CPAC speech, former President Donald Trump vowed to target members of the Republican establishment who not only hampered his “America First” agenda, but also supported an unconstitutional effort to impeach him after he was already out of office. Now, he has already begun making good on that promise.
RedState’s Jennifer Van Laar reported, Trump and his campaign team sent cease-and-desist letters to various Republican organizations, telling him to stop using his name and likeness in their fundraising efforts. She wrote:
Later Friday the RNC found out that Trump wasn’t limiting legal action to faux PACs using his name when they received a cease and desist letter from Trump’s attorneys. The cease and desist not only applies to using Trump’s name in emails but also his image, and also applies to using his name and/or image on merchandise. Probably to save time, Trump’s attorneys also sent cease and desist letters to the NRSC and the NRCC.
The Hill also noted:
One Trump ally said the cease-and-desist was partly to retaliate against his critics, partly a power move to control the flow of money, and partly a business decision for a mogul who has made a fortune off licensing and business agreements.
Trump could also at some point seek a cut of the fundraising appeals that bear his name to direct additional cash toward his campaign bank account, which is already sitting at $35 million.
The ally also pointed out, “The McConnell tension definitely opened the floodgates, and in a lot of ways, it’s about controlling the purse strings and exerting himself as the leader of the party by controlling the flow of money.”
The Republican National Committee balked at Trump’s request, claiming they should be allowed to use Trump’s name to raise money. In his letter responding to the former president’s attorney, RNC chief counsel Justin Riemer argued the GOP “has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals.”
Some on the right are concerned about the impact this particular dispute could have on the GOP’s ability to raise funds necessary to secure electoral victories. “Invoking Trump is an absolute winner when it comes to fundraising,” one Republican strategist said to The Hill. “It’s been really valuable in building a low-dollar fundraising organ for the party. Hopefully they’ll get this worked out because, as it stands, it’s a huge and totally unnecessary hurdle to overcome.”
Trump’s actions come just after he declared he would be traveling to Alaska to campaign against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted to convict him during the impeachment trial. It appears the lawmaker, who is up for re-election in 2022, is the first on Trump’s hit list.
Trump referred to Murkowski as a “disloyal and very bad senator” in a written statement.
“I will not be endorsing, under any circumstances, the failed candidate from the great State of Alaska, Lisa Murkowski,” the former president said. “She represents her state badly and her country even worse. I do not know where other people will be next year, but I know where I will be – in Alaska campaigning against a disloyal and very bad Senator.”
Fox News noted: “Although the Cook Political Report rates Murkowski’s seat as solidly Republican, she has had close calls before. She lost the 2010 Republican primary to a Tea Party challenger but defied the odds to beat him as a write-in candidate in the general election.”
Trump is not alone in his crusade against members of the Republican aristocracy. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a staunch Trump ally, has taken the lead in the effort to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) for her vote to impeach Trump. He recently traveled to Wyoming to stage an event in which he called on the state’s voters to send her packing. (See: Matt Gaetz Eviscerates Liz Cheney At Wyoming Rally, Tells Crowd She Has ‘Blood’ On Her Hands)
Other activists are also involved in the effort to remove establishment leaders from positions of power. Republican operative Scott Presler is targeting Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinziger (R-IL) for their support of the impeachment effort.
Of course, the winner of the conflict between Trump and the establishment will depend on voter turnout during the 2022 primaries. If conservative voters do not show up in full force, it seems likely that the establishment will retain their seats.
On the other hand, if Trump and his allies manage to capitalize on the rampant anti-establishment sentiment on the right in a way that inspires people to show up, he will have won a significant victory. The base is already primed. At this point it is up to non-establishment leaders to get them to show up at the polls in two years.