The former president has divided leading Republicans in the months since the U.S. Capitol attack

By Virginia Chamlee
March 08, 2021 05:03 PM
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Donald Trump
| Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump wants the Republican Party to stop using his name to fundraise, with the former president sending cease-and-desist letters to at least three leading GOP organizations demanding they stop using his name and likeness to fundraise.

The move underlines Trump's tension with the party since being voted out of office. 

Many conservatives and the GOP base have rallied around him at the same time that a small but vocal group of influential Republicans say he should be ostracized. The conflict is not dissimilar to his quest to win the Republican Party primary in 2015 and 2016.

News of Trump's cease-and-desist letters was first reported by Politico, with an adviser of the former president downplaying the appearance of strife, telling the outlet: "President Trump remains committed to the Republican Party and electing America First conservatives, but that doesn't give anyone — friend or foe — permission to use his likeness without explicit approval."

A source close to Trump, 74, confirmed the news of the cease-and-desist letters to PEOPLE.

Representatives for the three groups who reportedly received the letter, according to The Washington Post — the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee — did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

According to Post reporter Josh Dawsey, the RNC responded to Trump's cease-and-desist in a letter in which the organization claimed that he had previously "approve[d] of the RNC's current use of his name in fundraising and other materials"

Politico reported that Trump had been angered in part because the three groups back major Republicans, they have supported the same GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach or convict him after the U.S. Capitol riot.

Trump's letters follow a pair of emails sent to supporters by the RNC last week, seeking donations and urging recipients to sign a "thank you card to show their support for the former president," according to Politico.

"As one of President Trump's MOST LOYAL supporters, I think that YOU, deserve the great honor of adding your name to the Official Trump 'Thank You' Card," the email reads. As Politico reported, a follow-up email went out hours later addressed to "President Trump's TOP supporters."

Trump's relationship with the Republican Party has been strained since he left office in January in the wake of the Capitol attack by a mob of his supporters.

A recent analysis of voter registration data by The New York Times showed that more than 100,000 conservatives changed their party affiliation in the weeks following the insurrection, in which five people died.

A number of former high-ranking Republican officials had also said they would leave the party, though Trump remains popular with GOP voters, surveys show.

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His continued influence on his party was on full display at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida.

In his first public appearance since leaving office, Trump used his CPAC remarks to deny rumors that he might launch a new political party due to the rift with his own.

"We're not starting new parties," Trump said at the event. "They kept saying, 'He's going to start a new party!' We have the Republican Party! It's going to unite and be stronger than ever before. I am not starting a new party. That was fake news."

Though he has plenty of GOP critics, even many of those detractors don't deny his sway over the base.

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who voted to convict Trump at both of his impeachment trials, said in a recent interview that he believes Trump would win the party's nomination if he launched a 2024 campaign.

"Will President Trump continue to play a role in my party? I'm sure he will," Romney, 73, told the New York Times' Dealbook in a virtual interview that aired in February. "He has by far the largest voice and a big impact in my party ... I don't know if he'll run in 2024 or not, but if he does I'm pretty sure he will win the nomination."

donald trump
Donald Trump
| Credit: Mandel Ngan/Getty

While Romney said he would not back the ex-president were he to run again, others have already said they would support Trump.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — who previously said "President Trump is practically and morally responsible" for the deadly rioting at the Capitol — has since said that he would back the former president if Trump were to clinch the GOP nomination in 2024. (McConnell noted, however, that he feels the primary field is far from settled.)

Some Republicans don't think another successful campaign is coming, however.

Sen. Bill Cassidy predicted on CNN's State of the Union last week that Trump won't be his party's nominee during the next presidential election cycle.

"We've got to win in two years. We've got to win in four years," the Louisiana Republican said.

Cassidy continued: "If we do that, we'll do that by speaking to those issues that are important to the American people ... not by putting one person on a pedestal and making that person our focal point."

"If we idolize one person, we will lose," he said. "And that's kind of clear from the last election."