Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is reportedly preparing to step down from her post after seven years on the job. Multiple sources told the New York Times that McDaniel intends to resign after the South Carolina GOP primary at the end of the month; she had been facing years of pressure as the longest-reigning RNC chair with seemingly few tangible successes. The RNC expressed plans at its Winter Meeting last week to take out a credit line amid disappointing fundraising and cash-on-hand numbers, and McDaniel took sharp criticism for her failure to produce a “red wave” in the 2022 midterms and her unwillingness to get financially involved in Virginia’s state elections in 2023.
The writing seemed to be on the wall for McDaniel when Trump told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo during a Sunday interview that “there will probably be some changes made” at the RNC. Bartiromo reported Wednesday morning that the former president called McDaniel immediately after the interview and asked her to step aside. Trump tapped McDaniel to lead the RNC after she helped deliver him Michigan in the 2016 election. He boosted McDaniel’s early fundraising efforts as chairwoman by setting up a joint fundraising committee with the RNC. But there were signs cracks were forming when Trump refused to participate in the GOP primary debates and pressured the RNC to accept him as the nominee and save its money to help him against President Joe Biden in the general. Trump was also said to be unimpressed with the RNC’s efforts to shore up election security ahead of 2024.
Several names are floating around as potential replacements for McDaniel. The New York Times claims Trump’s top pick is North Carolina GOP chair Michael Whatley, who they helpfully describe as someone who supports “false claims of election fraud.” Whatley has lead the NC GOP since 2019 and, in the 2022 midterms, helped Republicans hold a key Senate seat after Richard Burr’s retirement. Former House speaker Kevin McCarthy’s name has also been mentioned — and he received a surprising endorsement from Representative Matt Gaetz.
“I fully endorse Kevin McCarthy for RNC Chair. Kevin is well organized and a very high-revenue fundraiser. He will also be well-liked by the RNC Committee,” Gaetz tweeted. “The RNC Chair doesn’t make any policy decisions, set any agenda or negotiate against Democrats, ever. Kevin would be terrific.”
The RNC has refused to confirm the news that McDaniel is on her way out. Instead, a spokesperson said, “Nothing has changed. This will be decided after South Carolina.”
On our radar
TUCKER IN RUSSIA European Union lawmakers are warning they could place sanctions on journalist Tucker Carlson for his forthcoming interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin. A member of European Parliament accused Carlson of assisting a war criminal.
IT’S CLASSIFIED The DoJ is preparing to release a report on its investigation into President Biden’s handling of classified documents. There are no charges expected, but the report is said to include plenty of embarrassing photos of Biden’s document storage that could leave him politically exposed.
BORDER WALL The Senate failed to advance the bipartisan border bill that combined immigration system reform with $60 billion in aid to Ukraine. Members of the GOP participated in negotiations on the bill but were quickly rebuffed by the rest of their party when the details were made public.
Mayorkas survives another day
Republicans just tanked their own plan to impeach the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas.
For a few minutes, Tuesday’s vote was tied at 215-215 before Utah Republican Blake Moore flipped his vote to a “nay.”
In the aftermath of the one-vote defeat, many have focused on the failure by Republicans to account for Texas Democrat Al Green showing up from the hospital in a wheelchair and scrubs to tank their efforts. Republicans have a perilously slim House majority, and Louisiana’s Steve Scalise was absent yesterday to attend cancer treatments, leaving them virtually no room for error.
There is another reason the vote failed: the bipartisan expulsion of New York Republican George Santos, who would have voted to impeach Mayorkas. Santos’s pinned tweet is currently a picture of the Mayorkas vote tied at 215 apiece, asking: “Miss me yet?” Georgia’s Mike Collins, for his part, replied that yes, he misses the lawmaker-turned-Cameo-sensation.
I caught up with Santos this morning — and he is still peeved, at his fellow New York Republicans in particular. His question for his former colleagues: “Will the New York delegation tell their constituents their obsession with silencing [New York’s 3rd District] voters cost them a crucial vote on accountability?” By Santos’s standards, that was fairly tame. Online, he called some of the Republicans still in Congress “vermin” and “insipid idiots.” Santos added, “I hope you’re happy you expelled me,” before blowing a kiss to the camera.
The Republicans who objected to Mayorkas’s impeachment included Colorado’s Ken Buck, who has rarely missed an opportunity to bail out Democrats, and Wisconsin’s Mike Gallagher, who took to the pages of the Wall Street Journal to warn of the dangerous precedent that impeachment would have for future Republican White Houses. Tom McClintock of California also opposed impeachment on procedural grounds.
Santos isn’t the only Republican who peaced out early and left the GOP in a bind: Ohio’s Bill Johnson and former speaker Kevin McCarthy departed Congress for greener pastures, and both would presumably have voted for impeachment.
The House GOP has expressed a desire to bring the vote up again when Scalise is back from his health leave.
Our lady of perpetual loss
How can you lose a Republican primary that Donald Trump didn’t even compete in? That’s the question the Nikki Haley camp will be asking itself today, after the former UN ambassador came in second to “None of these candidates” in the redundant Republican primary in Nevada.
Candidates could opt to be considered for either Thursday’s Nevada Caucus — the contest arranged by the state’s GOP — or Tuesday’s Nevada primary. The caucus tomorrow will appoint the delegates who will attend each county’s convention, who in turn select the delegates who head to the state convention. At the state convention, the twenty-six delegates who will represent Nevada at the RNC are chosen. Republican voters in Nevada, however, could participate in both the primary and the caucus. As Haley is the last major non-Trump candidate standing in the GOP race, it’s likely that Trump supporters showed up to express their displeasure for her yesterday before caucusing for him tomorrow.
Still, getting half of what “None of these candidates” achieved is a PR blow for Team Haley, as it registers her unpopularity within the party she’s hoping to lead. In a 2012 interview with the New York Times, Haley said, “The reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton.” Did she also intend to emulate Hillary’s track record of losing to Trump and alienating voters?
Cockburn somehow doubts it…