Congressional Republicans reacted with concern and a smattering of contempt on Tuesday over former President Donald Trump‘s call for GOP donors to funnel campaign cash to his super PAC instead of contributing to the party’s traditional fundraising arms.
“That was a new policy that he rolled out,” said House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. “Ultimately, President Trump‘s going to decide what kind of role he wants to play in elections in the future. I know we’re focused on winning the House back.”
In a statement on Monday night, Mr. Trump made an exclusive play for conservatives’ donations, placing his Save America PAC in direct competition with the House and Senate GOP campaign committees.
“No more money for RINOS,” Mr. Trump said, referring to “Republicans in name only.” “They do nothing but hurt the Republican Party and our great voting base—they will never lead us to greatness.”
He urged supporters, “Send your donation to Save America PAC at DonaldJTrump.com. We will bring it all back stronger than ever before!”
Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican and chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Mr. Trump‘s announcement doesn’t change his job of trying to re-elect all incumbent Republicans.
“We’re continuing to fundraise at the NRSC,” Mr. Scott told reporters. “We had a great January … I think people are helping us [the NRSC] because they want to get the majority of the Senate back.”
Longtime Trump foe Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican, tweeted of Mr. Trump‘s announcement: “Trump demands loyalty and gives none. Statement of a man desperate for relevance but feeling the changing tides.”
The former president insisted late on Tuesday that he fully supports “the Republican Party and important GOP Committees.”
“But I do not support RINOs and fools, and it is not their right to use my likeness or image to raise funds,” Mr. Trump said. “So much money is being raised and completely wasted by people that do not have the GOP’s best interests in mind. If you donate to our Save America PAC at DonaldJTrump.com, you are helping the America First movement and doing it right.”
Mr. Trump is eager to defeat Mr. Kinzinger and nine other House Republicans who voted for his second impeachment in January, for inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol.
He’s also vowing to campaign against Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the only Republican running for reelection in 2022 among the seven GOP senators who voted to convict him in his Senate trial.
The former president also is fuming at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, calling him a “hack” and blaming him for Republicans losing control of the Senate in January.
Last weekend, Trump legal counsel Alex Cannon sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee telling them to stop using Mr. Trump‘s name for fundraising.
But RNC chief counsel Justin Riemer responded on Monday that the party organization “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.”
“The RNC is grateful for the past and continued support President Trump has given to the committee and it looks forward to working with him to elect Republicans across the country,” Mr. Riemer wrote.
Hours later, Mr. Trump issued his call for donations to his PAC. Neither the RNC nor the NRSC responded to requests for comment about Mr. Trump‘s latest move.
Mr. Scalise said the GOP needs to stay focused on defeating House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her “socialist agenda.” He noted that the NRCC out-raised the House Democrats’ fundraising committee in January.
“We’re going to keep working to get the House back and raise the money it takes to elect more good candidates,” Mr. Scalise said. “We’re going to continue fighting for hard working families, while they continue to promote a socialist agenda.”
The renewed feud between Mr. Trump and the three GOP fundraising committees comes less than two weeks after Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican and head of the NRSC, downplayed talk of a Republican “civil war” at the annual CPAC conference.
Noting that Democrats control the White House and Congress, Mr. Scott said “in the face of this mortal threat to our nation and our very existence, some prefer to fan the flames of a civil war on our side.”
“That’s foolish and ridiculous,” he said. “We’ve got serious work to do. We do not have time for that.”
He said if conservatives return to days of the Republican Party “establishment” in Washington, “we will lose the working-class base that President Trump so animated, we will lose elections across the country, and we will lose our nation.”
“And now many are saying it is my job to mediate between warring factions on the right and mediate the war of words between party leaders. … Well, I have news for them — I’m not going to mediate anything,” Mr. Scott said. “Instead, I’m going to fight for our conservative values, and I’m going to do it boldly, and without apology to anyone.”
Mr. Trump has endorsed several Republicans for reelection, including Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina, John Kennedy of Louisiana and John Boozman of Arkansas.
There are several Trump Republican allies eyeing open Senate seats in 2022, including Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona and Rep. Warren Davidson of Ohio. Rep. Jason Smith, Missouri Republican, told reporters this week that he is considering a bid for the seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Roy Blunt.
On Tuesday, Mr. Trump voiced appreciation for Mr. Blunt, citing his support during the second impeachment.
“He was one of the first people who came to my defense against the Impeachment Hoax #2 (IH-2), and it was greatly appreciated by me,” Mr. Trump
said. “Congratulations to the entire Blunt family, and to Roy on a wonderful career!”