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Henry Barbour Tries to Stop RNC From Paying Trump Legal Bills

President Donald Trump speaks at a podium with the US flag behind him
Henry Barbour, a member of the Republican National Committee from Mississippi, is attempting to slow Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s takeover of the RNC and to prevent the committee from paying his legal bills before he becomes its official nominee. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — At least one member of the Republican National Committee is working to slow Donald Trump’s attempted takeover of the organization by pushing to keep the committee neutral until Trump is officially the presidential nominee and avoid picking up his legal bills.

Two draft resolutions are being circulated by Henry Barbour, a national committeeman from Mississippi, for consideration at the RNC’s upcoming March meeting in Houston. Barbour said support for the resolutions among RNC members is growing but he does not yet have the needed cosponsors, and any resolutions would ultimately be nonbinding.

The effort comes after Trump last week publicly called to replace the RNC’s current leaders and install one of his senior campaign advisors and his daughter-in-law Lara Trump in top roles.

Lara Trump suggested earlier in the week that GOP voters would support the committee paying her father-in-law’s legal bills as he faces a raft of criminal and civil indictments.

Trump senior campaign adviser Chris LaCivita, whom the former president wants to install as the party’s chief operating officer, told reporters Friday night that the RNC would not pay Trump’s legal bills.

In a statement on Saturday, LaCavita said “the primary is over and it is the RNC’s sole responsibility to defeat Joe Biden and win back the White House.”

“Efforts to delay that assist Joe Biden in the destruction of our nation,” he said. “Republicans cannot stand on the sidelines and allow this to happen.”

One of Barbour’s proposed resolutions says that the RNC and its leadership will stay neutral throughout the presidential primary and not take on additional staff from any of the active campaigns until a candidate has the needed delegates to be the nominee.

The second resolution says the organization will not pay the legal bills of any candidate for federal or state office but will instead focus its spending on efforts directly related to the 2024 election.

“The RNC has one job. That’s winning elections,” Barbour said. “I believe RNC funds should be spent solely on winning elections, on political expenses, not legal bills.”

The RNC was paying some of Trump’s legal bills for New York cases that started while he was president, the Washington Post reported, but current Chair Ronna McDaniel said in November 2022 that the RNC would stop paying once Trump became a candidate again and started running for the 2024 presidential election.

Trump is spending millions on lawyers in civil cases and four criminal cases, but he also has legal debts that top half a billion dollars.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who is Trump’s last major challenger in the GOP primary and facing him in her home state’s contest Saturday, said a family member or campaign manager should not be leading the RNC.

“I would hope that the people in the RNC know that they have a responsibility, a responsibility to put in people in the RNC who are going to look out in the best interest of all of the Republican Party, not just one person,” Haley said.

The resolutions were first reported by The Dispatch on Saturday.

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Columbia, South Carolina, and Meg Kinnard in Kiawah Island, South Carolina, contributed to this report.

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