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Donald Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is poised to become co-chair of the RNC

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Donald Trump is poised to take control today at the Republican National Committee.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The RNC meets to elect new leadership just as Trump pivots from the primary to the November general election, and the committee members are expected to pick several Trump loyalists, including a family member.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. Here to tell us all about it is NPR's Franco Ordoñez. So on the surface, all of this, Franco, sounds unusual. Is it unusual?

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: Not really. I mean, the RNC no longer has to play this neutral role in the presidential primary now that former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has dropped out. That makes Trump the GOP's presumptive nominee. So he'll get a lot of the party resources that he's been craving for months, including access to finances, staff and donor lists. And this is very important for Trump because he and Republicans are looking to close that fundraising gap that they have with Biden and the Democrats.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So these new leaders that Trump is backing, what are some of their plans?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, Trump has hand-selected Michael Whatley to be the chair. He's currently the chair of the North Carolina Republican Party. He's known for running a good ground game. You know, North Carolina traditionally has close elections, but under Whatley, they've won a lot of those races up and down the ballot. He does come with some controversy, though. He fought against the results of the 2020 election.

Now, co-chair would be Lara Trump. She's of course married to Trump's son, Eric Trump. She actually outlined one of her priorities just a few weeks ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LARA TRUMP: The truth is, if we want to compete with the Democrats, we cannot wait until Election Day. If we want to compete and win, we must embrace early voting.

ORDOÑEZ: And, A, I'll just note that she's demonstrating a little independence here, since her father-in-law has repeatedly criticized mail-in ballots as being fraudulent, without any evidence, of course. And one more important name to mention is Chris LaCivita. He's a senior adviser on the Trump campaign who is also expected to take on the role of chief operating officer for the RNC. So he's going to do both.

MARTÍNEZ: Still, Franco, I mean, an in-law as a national committee chair - I mean, everyone in the GOP is good with that?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. I mean, it's definitely raised some eyebrows, but...

MARTÍNEZ: Doesn't it?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. I mean...

ORDOÑEZ: Here in Houston, you know, the people I speak with there seem to be OK with it. They've talked to me that it's more of a ceremonial role, a fundraising role.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. Now, apart from the leadership vote, there's been a debate about the possible resolution to prevent the RNC from paying Donald Trump's legal fees. So what's the status on that?

ORDOÑEZ: You know, there are some concerns, especially when it comes to having some money for lower-ballot races, but they don't seem to be going anywhere. I spoke to Morton Blackwell, a member from Louisiana who is here in Houston, and like others, he sees the investigations of Trump as political. And therefore, he says he's open to the idea of the party covering some of those fees.

MORTON BLACKWELL: The fact is that there is something called lawfare going on here, where the Democrats are trying to use the powers of the government to punish the Republicans, and particularly Trump, and it's absolutely outrageous.

ORDOÑEZ: Now, we should note that the U.S. Justice Department operates independently of the White House. But for Blackwell and others, the RNC's ability to raise funds is directly tied to its relationship with Trump. And having Lara Trump on board helps with those efforts.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. There you go. That's NPR's Franco Ordoñez. Thanks a lot.

ORDOÑEZ: Thanks, A. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.