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Lara Trump at the RNC: One Step Closer to Hereditary Dictatorship

Trump’s daughter-in-law will be his eyes and ears at the Republican National Committee. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

Lara Trump at the North Carolina GOP state convention with Donald Trump
Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images
Lara Trump at the North Carolina GOP state convention with Donald Trump in 2021

This past week, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced her resignation from the position weeks after Politico revealed that she planned to do so. She is being replaced by North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley and former President Donald Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump. Additionally, Trump’s longtime senior adviser Chris LaCivita is being installed as the committee’s chief operating officer. This series of moves highlights things we already knew about Trump and signals a new role for the RNC going forward.

First, there’s the tragicomic story arc of McDaniel. She was installed as RNC chair at Trump’s behest in 2016 and has abased herself repeatedly to curry his favor. McDaniel, née Romney-McDaniel, reportedly changed her last name at Trump’s behest because he disliked Mitt Romney, who is Ronna’s uncle (McDaniel denies this). McDaniel turned the RNC into Trump’s personal legal fund to pay the lawyers defending him from 91 charges, plus the civil trials in New York. But after disappointing election results in 2018, 2020, and 2022, Trump needed someone to blame besides himself for underperforming GOP candidates endorsed by Trump, and she was unceremoniously thrown under the bus.

It’s a reminder of Trump’s core personality: All relationships are entirely transactional. The instant you’re of less use to him than someone else, you’re done. In this case, Trump is stocking the RNC with loyalists who will also be unceremoniously dumped as soon as it’s convenient (except Lara, but more on that later).

These moves effectively turn the RNC into an extension of the Trump Organization, while setting the stage for the U.S. to become a hereditary dictatorship akin to that of North Korea’s Kim family, which Trump seems to greatly admire. Both of these transformations will have profound effects on the United States in the years ahead, and neither of them is being extensively explored by the media.

McDaniel was fine with commingling RNC funding with Trump’s. Trump, for his part, was never above a good shakedown (ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy). The Trump Organization was always a family affair and was always corrupt. Trump stiffed contractors, cooked the books, sold inferior products at a high markup, and did it all in the style of a mob family that doesn’t answer to a board, shareholders, or investors. He will likely apply the same model to the RNC itself.

From this point on, the RNC will not exist so much to promote the interests of the Republican Party across the country. It has done less and less of the traditional things a national committee would do in recent years. Instead, it exists primarily to advance the financial and political interests of the Trump family, while ensuring blind loyalty to the Trump family by every Republican candidate and elected official in the U.S. Effectively, this represents the end of any resistance to Trump within the Republican Party. Anyone who crosses Trump will find the entire weight of the party pushing them out of office and promoting primary challenges.

The function of the RNC changes again if Trump becomes president. If Trump invokes the Insurrection Act, weaponizes government agencies, and becomes a dictator on “Day One,” the RNC is likely to become a tool for some epic-level shakedowns of individuals and corporations, reminiscent of Trump’s mob-like past. “Nice corporation you’ve got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it. So, how much can we put you down for in contributions this year?”

Corporations are likely to comply as long as they think paying the extortion is less of a hassle than fighting it. The RNC, for its part, will try to calibrate its demands to a level just below the point where corporations and wealthy individuals will balk. In practice, this looks like fundraising at a level never seen before by the RNC. In practice, a staggering amount will almost surely end up directly in the offshore accounts of the Trump family.

He’ll also likely use it to extort favor with foreign countries. With the Supreme Court about to rule that rex non potest peccare (the king can do no wrong) and Trump filling every government agency with MAGA true believers top to bottom, there will be no consequences, ever, for clearly illegal actions like accepting overseas campaign donations. If no one in the federal government is willing to investigate, prosecute, or enforce laws barring Trump and the RNC from taking in massive donations from illegal sources, there’s no disincentive to doing so. Given how much Trump seems to have taken from Saudi Arabia and China, this seems less like speculation and more like a promise. The RNC will provide the infrastructure to do this more effectively.

Now let’s talk Lara Trump. She has little relevant experience for the job: Previously, she was a producer for Inside Edition. However, she’s married to Eric Trump, and Donald Trump has never had a problem with nepotism in his administration. The utterly unqualified and incompetent Ivanka and Jared Kushner held key positions in his previous administration. Lara Trump’s job is not to be effective, though. It’s to be the Trump family’s eyes and ears inside the organization. It is also probably to ensure a smooth transfer of power to Donald Jr. when Donald Sr. leaves office or passes away.

Trump had a habit of placing loyalist underlings, whose primary job was to squeal on anyone who wasn’t as loyal as Trump thought they should be, in the offices of people he didn’t entirely trust during his first administration. Putting Lara at the top of the RNC is no different. He also has a vision for how a business should be run, and it looks like the Trump Organization (which was just fined $355 million by the State of New York for illegal business practices). It’s only natural that he would apply it to the RNC. Ultimately, the RNC is meant to become just another subsidiary of the Trump Organization, as is the government. Trump has had no problem with using the government for his own personal gain, the Hatch Act be damned.

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower once observed that “if a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.” This is going to be on full display if Trump becomes president again and the RNC takes on the same roles as the CPC, namely, securing money, power, and loyalty for dear leader while operating entirely outside the law.