Mar 13, 2024 - Politics & Policy

"A harbinger of things to come": Trump's RNC shakeup signals plans for 2025

Illustration of a red neck tie trapping an elephant.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

President Trump's ousting of a huge chunk of the Republican National Committee's staff is a preview of what he plans to do with federal agencies if he's re-elected in November.

Why it matters: The Republican Party is now effectively the Trump Party. It's been remade in a way that echoes Trump's 2025 plan to oust moderates and nonpartisan civil servants from the government, pack federal offices with loyalists and expand presidential powers.

  • Trump "clearly wants a Republican National Committee that dances to his tune, jumps when he says jump," said Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
  • "That is a harbinger of things to come," Ornstein added. "One thing we know about Trump is that his attitude toward the federal government is clear."

Driving the news: Trump's new team atop the RNC — led by new party chair Michael Whatley and Trump's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump — fired 60 staffers on Monday.

  • The moves decimated the party's data and political teams, including dozens of regional RNC staffers based in key states across the country, two people familiar with the situation told Axios.
  • The RNC's financial and digital teams are being asked to relocate to Palm Beach, Fla., where Trump spends most of his time at his Mar-a-Lago resort, the two sources said.

What they're saying: Trump die-hards cheered the RNC firings.

  • "You got the RNC that's now purging the deep state," conservative activist and MAGA influencer Charlie Kirk said on his podcast.
  • "The RNC right now has to be taken apart brick by brick and rapidly rebuilt," said Steve Bannon, who'd been calling for former RNC chair Ronna McDaniel to step down for two years before Trump pushed her aside last month.

Zoom out: Such talk is common among Trump's most loyal supporters, many of whom have seen the RNC as comparable to what they call the "swamp" in Washington — an entrenched power structure that needs replacing.

  • That's why many of Trump's criticisms of more traditional Republicans — like Mitt Romney, George W. Bush and others who've blasted Trump's divisive rhetoric and his assault on U.S. institutions — have echoed how he describes the "deep state" in D.C.
  • "Either the deep state destroys America or we destroy the deep state," Trump said at a rally in Waco, Texas, last year, essentially challenging the legitimacy of government institutions.

Zoom in: Trump has promised to gut the federal workforce by reintroducing an executive order known as Schedule F if he wins a second term.

  • As Axios has reported, a consortium of Trump allies are spending tens of millions of dollars to install a pre-vetted, pro-Trump army of up to 54,000 loyalists across government if he's elected.
  • The idea would be to rip off the restraints imposed on the previous 46 presidents and empower Trump to wield unprecedented power.
  • Trump's plan, as outlined in his policy platform, would involve firing "rogue bureaucrats" and "corrupt actors in our national security and intelligence apparatus," and moving up to 100,000 government positions out of D.C.

Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said that remaking the RNC isn't the same as remaking the U.S. government.

  • "There is no correlation between the two," Cheung said.
  • "One is related to the coalescing of the party's apparatus behind President Trump and his campaign, and the other is related to the reclassification of federal employees to ultimately root out corruption."
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