Former President Donald Trump is expected to meet with Republican Sen. Rick Scott this week, a source familiar with the meeting told CNN, at a time when the party is heatedly debating Trump’s role in its future.
The meeting with Scott, a Floridian who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has been planned for weeks, the source said. But it will come at a time of considerable tension between the former President and the party establishment following his push to route supporters’ money through his own political apparatus, rather than traditional Republican campaign committees like the NRSC.
The visit, which was first reported by The Washington Post, also underscores the GOP split over Trump’s legacy in the party as it moves forward in the Biden era. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise have also visited with Trump and most House Republicans — with the notable exception of GOP conference chair Liz Cheney — view the former President as their standard-bearer.
But Trump’s support is less pronounced in the Senate, where GOP leader Mitch McConnell and John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican who faces reelection in South Dakota next year, have both worked to distance themselves from the former President.
McConnell delivered scathing remarks about Trump on the Senate floor after voting to acquit him in the impeachment trial, even suggesting he might be criminally prosecuted for his actions leading up to the January 6 Capitol attack.
The rift has been further complicated in recent days by letters from Trump’s lawyers to the Republican National Committee and the party’s House and Senate campaign arms warning against using Trump’s name to raise money.
In tweet-like statements, Trump has urged his supporters to give money directly to his Save America political action committee — leaving the network of campaign committees and affiliated super PACs that typically lead midterm efforts in the cold.
“No more money for RINOS,” Trump said in a Monday evening statement. “They do nothing but hurt the Republican Party and our great voting base–they will never lead us to Greatness. Send your donation to Save America PAC at DonaldJTrump.com. We will bring it all back stronger than ever before!”
But while Trump may put his name behind a candidate, McConnell is still armed with a well-funded outside group, the Senate Leadership Fund, which stands poised to drop millions in key races to try and push the GOP leader’s preferred choices across the finish line.