2024 Donald Trump

Donald Trump is Forming a Republican Party in the Shadows

According to its website, the America First Policy Institute was established on Monday by a group of former Trump administration officials with the aim of promoting “liberty, free enterprise, national greatness, American military hegemony, foreign-policy participation in the American interest, and the primacy of American workers.”

The founders, which include Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, “have my full support as they work not only to uphold the historic achievements of my administration, but also to propel the America First Agenda into the future,” Trump said.

It’s the most recent — and best-funded, with a $20 million initial budget — example of how the 45th President and his supporters are forming a constellation of organizations (political, legal, and policy) that mirror the national Republican Party’s structure.

Trump’s Save America Super PAC is the centerpiece of the shadow faction, which he has been actively raising money for months, even during his extended attempts to protest the 2020 election results. According to a Trump aide who spoke with The New York Times earlier this month, the PAC had $85 million in the bank, nearly equal to the Republican National Committee’s cash on hand of $84 million at the time.

Trump has used the PAC to finance his political efforts and will continue to do so. He has already stated that he will vote against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and has supported Rep. Mo Brooks in the Alabama Senate race and Rep. Jody Hice’s run for the next Georgia secretary of state.

“I stand before you this evening filled with optimism that in 2022, we will reclaim the House and the Senate,” Trump told Republican National Committee donors in Florida over the weekend. “And then a Republican nominee will win the White House in 2024.” (In the same statement, Trump made a personal assault on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.)

There’s also the America First Legal Foundation, which was established by longtime Trump confidant Stephen Miller in late March with the aim of coordinating legal challenges to President Joe Biden’s and his administration’s policies. And, yes, Trump has openly supported it, referring to Miller as “a great guy.” “For the America First campaign, he is a fearless and principled warrior. He has a strong backbone, is honest, and never gives up.”

Don’t forget about the Conservative Partnership Institute, which was created by former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint and which former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows entered in January as a sort of training ground for potential Trump conservatives.

Taken together, the groups give Trump the most power over the Republican Party and its trajectory in the coming months and years. While the main aim of the organizations would obviously be to position Trump to walk away with the Republican nomination in 2024 if he chooses to run, there will be other repercussions —- whether expected or not —- from what is going on here.

With McConnell at the helm, the Republican establishment is attempting to distance itself from Trump. McConnell chastised Trump for his part in the riot in the US Capitol on January 6th (although he voted against convicting Trump on impeachment charges over his role). In Alaska, a McConnell-aligned outside party has just endorsed Murkowski.

The problem with that is twofold: 1) Trump has no desire to be replaced, and 2) the GOP base still views Trump as the party’s undisputed leader.

The establishment of Trump Inc. in the political sphere demonstrates that the former President (and his many minions, hangers-on, and family members) are not only in it for the long haul, but also have no qualms about erecting infrastructure to marginalize the establishment’s pillars of power. What Trump is doing would force many major donors (as well as many small-dollar donors) to choose between giving to Trump world and the RNC, as well as the numerous other establishment groups and committees that have long been the conduits for conservative funds.

And for the Republican establishment, this is a major problem.

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