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RNC says it has the right to use Trump's name and likeness for fundraising

The Republican National Committee has responded to a cease-and-desist letter from former President Trump that demanded that the RNC and other GOP campaign committees stop using his name and likeness in their fundraising materials. 

The RNC told the ex-president's lawyer that it "has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech." The RNC's response was first reported by Politico

RNC lawyer Justin Riemer, asserted that the party would continue to refer to public figures, and he stated that Mr. Trump had in fact "reaffirmed" with RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel just this past weekend that he approves of the RNC's use of his name to raise money. The RNC continued to use Mr. Trump's name in its correspondence, including one email on Sunday that urged supporters to "DEFEND President Trump's America First policies."

Last week, Politico reported that attorneys for Mr. Trump sent cease-and-desist letters to the RNC, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and National Republican Senatorial Committee for — according to them — using his name in fundraising merchandise and emails. Other "faux PACs" that were also using Mr. Trump's name also received letters. 

The cease-and-desist letter to the RNC asked the committee to "immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of President Donald J. Trump's name, image and/or likeness in all fundraising, persuasion and/or issue speech."

The Trump campaign and RNC joint fundraising committee, Trump Victory, raised $366 million dollars in 2019 and 2020. In his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr. Trump encouraged donors to give to his new PAC, Save America, which will have him competing with other GOP groups for money. 

"There's only one way to contribute to our efforts to elect America first Republican conservatives and in turn, make America great again and that's through Save America PAC and," Mr. Trump said. He repeated the fundraising pitch in a statement Monday night and said, "No more money for RINOS (Republican in name only). They do nothing but hurt the Republican Party and our great voting base - they will never lead us to Greatness."

His move to control the use of his image sets up a competition with the GOP for donations that could result in giving Mr. Trump more power to recast the Republican Party in his image. While in many cases their interests will be aligned, the former president and Republicans could clash during the primaries. The RNC does not take a position in primaries, and the campaign arms of the Senate and House GOP are likely to stand by any GOP incumbents, though their levels of support may vary. 

But Mr. Trump has already signaled he's out for vengeance and looking for people to challenge the Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach him earlier this year. He has already endorsed Max Miller, a former aide who is running to unseat Ohio Congressman Anthony Gonzalez, one of the ten House Republicans who voted for Mr. Trump's impeachment. 

"Get rid of them all," Mr. Trump said during his CPAC speech, referring to the Republicans who backed impeachment. 

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