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Fundraising spat points to Trump-GOP fissures

The fragile alliance between former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump mocks Murkowski, Cheney election chances Race debate grips Congress US reentry to Paris agreement adds momentum to cities' sustainability efforts MORE and the GOP campaign organizations showed signs of fraying this week amid turf disputes over fundraising and the use of Trump’s name and image in advertising.

Trump over the past week has taken legal action and issued public calls to try to redirect campaign donations from the committees charged with electing Republicans to his own campaign bank account.

And he’s vowed to oust GOP lawmakers who supported his impeachment, including Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump mocks Murkowski, Cheney election chances Biden picks Obama alum for No. 2 spot at Interior Biden outreach on infrastructure met with Republican skepticism MORE (Alaska), one of the Senate’s foremost centrists who's up for reelection in next year's midterms, even as nearly half a dozen other Republican Senate institutionalists are headed for the exits.

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At the same time, Trump strategized this week with National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.) at his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach. He also offered full-throated endorsements for nearly half a dozen Republicans up for reelection in the Senate, potentially helping them steer clear of primary challengers.

Trump has said he’s committed to helping Republicans regain majorities in the House and Senate, even if his actions have appeared at times to work against that goal.

Republicans say it will be a delicate dance with the mercurial former president as the 2022 election cycle heats up, an acknowledgment that the party will need the enthusiasm and loyalty Trump engenders among base voters as the GOP seeks to take back control of Congress.

“Trump is going to do what he wants to do, and he’s going to involve himself in primaries, and it’s a wasted effort to try and convince him otherwise,” said one Republican National Committee (RNC) insider. “Trump has all the cards here. He’s got the popular support, and he’s got the support of most major donors. So yes, it’d be nice if we could all get along and fly together, but there are some folks in the House and Senate who he has a right to go after. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s done more for the Republican Party than anyone alive, and he deserves respect.”

A Senate campaign source said Scott, a Florida senator with presidential ambitions, was at Mar-a-Lago on Thursday night updating Trump on the NRSC’s plans for the cycle and how it can work with him to win back the majority.

A Trump World source said they discussed endorsements for some incumbents as well candidate recruitment for several open seats. Trump has already publicly endorsed GOP Sens. John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSenate GOP opens door to earmarks Arkansas governor quietly bucking GOP's dive into culture wars Trump allies line up ahead of potentially bruising primaries MORE (Ark.), Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoOn The Money: Inflation rears its head amid spending debate | IRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting T | Restaurants fret labor shortage IRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion Trump faces test of power with early endorsements MORE (Idaho), John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottTim Scott to participate in GOP event in Iowa Shocking killing renews tensions over police Democrat: 'Registration, engagement' are keys to toppling Sen. Tim Scott in South Carolina MORE (S.C.) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranAnti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Democrats work to pick up GOP support on anti-Asian hate crimes bill MORE (Kansas), although none of them were expected to pull serious primary challengers.

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However, the Team Trump source said the former president refused to back down from his promise to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski, the only GOP senator up for reelection in 2022 who voted to convict him in his second impeachment trial.

Also looming over 2022: Trump's soured relationship with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Memo: Biden puts 9/11 era in rear view Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle Greitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP MORE (R-Ky.), a top party fundraiser.

“There is tension, especially with some of the incumbents in the House and Senate who backed impeachment, so the GOP committee chairs will have to decide whether they’re sticking by the incumbents or standing with Trump,” said one former Trump administration official. “If push comes to shove, I expect they’ll side with the president. That’s just the reality of where the party is at.”

In the House, Trump has endorsed former White House aide Max Miller, who is challenging Rep. Anthony GonzalezAnthony GonzalezTrump digs in on attacks against Republican leaders Trump looms large over GOP donor retreat in Florida Trump faces test of power with early endorsements MORE (Ohio), one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach.

Trump adviser Jason Miller warned Friday that there will be severe consequences if the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) or any other outside group intervenes to oppose Trump’s sanctioned candidates.

“If the NRCC or the committee were to come in really strong to attack Max ... number one, that’s going to get President Trump involved in a huge way,” Miller said on Steve BannonStephen (Steve) Kevin BannonTrump denies Gaetz asked him for blanket pardon Both the left and the right discriminate against Asian Americans Hillicon Valley: John Matze takes on Parler | Prince Harry heads to Silicon Valley | YouTube leaves up Boulder shooting video MORE’s “War Room” podcast. “But I think it’s probably safe to say that any cooperation or working with such an entity in the future is probably done.”

“If President Trump endorses someone ... when the committee starts attacking them, there are going to be big problems,” he added.

Trump has good relationships with the heads of the GOP campaign committees: RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielRNC rolls out ad campaign hitting Democrats over election reform RNC to shadow Biden as he promotes COVID-19 relief bill Fundraising spat points to Trump-GOP fissures MORE, the NRSC's Scott and NRCC Chairman Tom EmmerThomas (Tom) Earl EmmerTrump digs in on attacks against Republican leaders GOP campaign chief confident his party will win back House Letlow wins Louisiana special House election to replace late husband MORE (R-Minn.).

However, Trump raised questions about his ability to cooperate with GOP leaders this week when he sent a cease-and-desist order to the three groups saying they cannot fundraise off his name or likeness without explicit permission.

The RNC responded with a respectful letter saying it “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.”

Trump followed up with a clarifying statement saying that he fully supports the Republican Party and the “important” GOP committees but that he does not want any of the money he helps raise to be directed toward the “RINOs and fools” who have criticized him.

“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. We will WIN, and we will WIN BIG! Our Country is being destroyed by the Democrats!” Trump said.

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That back-and-forth appears to have leveled off for now, with the committees under the impression that Trump will sanction their fundraising efforts so long as it does not benefit the GOP rebels who voted to impeach him.

The RNC will hold part of its spring donors retreat next month at Mar-a-Lago, where Trump is expected to speak. The RNC has used Trump’s name to fundraise for that event, which is expected to draw several potential White House hopefuls eager to take up Trump’s mantle, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - US vaccine effort takes hit with Johnson & Johnson pause Florida wastewater reservoir to close after leak, DeSantis says Republicans need to stop Joe Biden's progressive assault on America MORE, South Dakota Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemNoem pledges to not accept illegal immigrants: 'Call me when you're an American' Nikki Haley says if Trump runs for president in 2024 then she won't The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip MORE and former Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoWhy the US needs to clear the way for international justice Tim Scott to participate in GOP event in Iowa Progressive lawmaker to introduce bill seeking more oversight of Israel assistance MORE.

Of course, Trump is leaving open the possibility that he could run again in 2024, and he’ll be the prohibitive front-runner if he does.

“The RNC and President Trump are focused on the same goal — retaking our Congressional majorities in 2022,” said RNC national press secretary Mandi Merritt. “There is much more that unites our Party than divides it, and together we will work to expose Democrats’ bad policies and elect Republicans up and down the ballot.”