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Trump endorses new RNC chair, announces daughter-in-law's run for vice chair

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Trump endorses new RNC chair, announces daughter-in-law's run for vice chair

Former President Donald Trump, on Monday, announced his recommendations for changes within the Republican National Committee, proposing leadership positions for North Carolina GOP chair Michael Whatley, daughter-in-law Lara Trump and campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita.

As he moves closer to locking up the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Trump has increasingly been pushing to exert control and install loyalists at the national party committee. And last week, Trump recommended Whatley replace longtime RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel after this month’s South Carolina Republican presidential primary.

A source familiar with the change told Fox News Digital at the time that Trump was pushing for Whatley to replace McDaniel because he was “so powerful on election fraud” in 2020.

On Monday, Trump officially announced that he believes Whatley should be the RNC’s next leader.

TRUMP RECOMMENDS NORTH CAROLINA GOP CHAIR WHATLEY TO REPLACE MCDANIEL AT RNC: SOURCE

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Former President Donald Trump announced his endorsements for leadership positions in the Republican National Committee on Feb. 12, 2024. The former president endorsed Michael Whatley, left, to serve as the RNC’s next chairman; Lara Trump to serve as vice chair; and Chris LaCivita to serve as the Chief Operating Officer of the RNC. (AP and Getty images)

“Michael has been with me from the beginning, has done a great job in his home state of North Carolina, and is committed to election integrity, which we must have to keep fraud out of our election, so it can’t be stolen,” Trump said.

Whatley was a strong supporter of Trump’s unproven claims that his 2020 election loss to President Biden was due to massive voter fraud.

The rival Democratic National Committee reacted to the news with an email statement titled “Donald Trump Endorses Extreme Election Denier To Lead the RNC.”

Whatley has served as the North Carolina GOP chair since 2019. Whatley also serves as the general counsel for the Republican National Committee. 

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Prior to his work with the Republican Party, Whatley served as a federal law clerk, a senior official in the President George W. Bush administration and as the chief of staff for former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C. Whatley also served as a senior adviser to the Bush-Cheney campaign, Florida Recount and Transition Teams, as well as the Trump-Pence campaign and transition teams. 

Along with looking to get Whatley into the top leadership position in the committee, Trump announced plans for his daughter-in-law Lara Trump to run as co-chair of the RNC.

RNC CHAIR RONNA MCDANIEL TO STEP DOWN AFTER SOUTH CAROLINA PRIMARIES: REPORT

Former President Donald Trump campaigns in Las Vegas ahead of GOP caucus

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump motions before speaking at a campaign event Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) (AP Photo/John Loche)

“Lara is an extremely talented communicator and is dedicated to all that MAGA stands for,” the former president said. “She has told me she wants to accept this challenge and would be GREAT!”

The third position Trump hopes to have influence on within the committee is chief operating officer. He’d like to see veteran Republican strategist Chris LaCivita, who’s a top adviser in Trump’s 2024 campaign, in that role.

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“Chris will manage the RNC’s day-to-day operations, so it will become a fighting machine for 2024 and use all the tools available to win for the American people,” Trump said.

If LaCivita ends up at the RNC, it would be his second tour of duty. He served as a senior RNC adviser during the summer and fall of 2016, during Trump’s election to the White House.

TRUMP MEETS WITH RONNA MCDANIEL – THEN CALLS FOR CHANGES AT REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE

The former president also said the three individuals are “highly talented, battle-tested, and smart,” adding they have his “complete and total endorsement” to lead the RNC.

As Trump seeks to win back his old job in the White House, he stated on Monday how crucial it was for the RNC to be a good partner during the election.

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“That means helping to ensure fair and transparent elections across the country, getting out the vote everywhere – even in parts of the country where it won’t be easy – and working with my campaign, as the Republican presumptive nominee for President, to win this election and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” he exclaimed.

FIRST ON FOX: RNC REBOUNDS WITH STRONG FUNDRAISING MONTH

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel speaks

The Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel is seen here speaking before a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NBC News on Nov. 8, 2023, in Miami.  (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Trump recently met with McDaniel at his Mar-a-Lago club  in Palm Beach, Florida, and after the meeting, he posted on his Truth Social platform that McDaniel was a “friend” but that he would be urging changes at the RNC after the South Carolina presidential primary.

The former president pointed to McDaniel’s previous tenure as chair of the Michigan GOP.

“I think she did OK, initially, in the RNC. I would say right now, there’ll probably be some changes made,” he added.

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McDaniel was nominated as RNC chair by Trump soon after his presidential election victory in 2016, and she won re-election in 2019, 2021, and January of last year. 

While she ended up easily winning her last re-election, she faced a vocal faction of far-right detractors who viewed her as too close to the party’s establishment wing.

She’s also come under plenty of criticism in recent months over the RNC’s finances.

Alarms are ringing over the party’s fundraising heading into the general election. The RNC ended 2023 with just $8 million in cash on hand, less than half as much as the Democratic National Committee. 

But as Fox News Digital was first to report, the RNC did haul in $12 million in January, its best monthly fundraising haul in the 2024 election cycle.

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And Trump, who is the commanding front-runner for the Republican nomination as he bids for the White House a third straight time, was angry at McDaniel and the RNC in recent months for holding GOP presidential primary debates, which he skipped.

RNC spokesman Keith Schipper, in a statement to Fox News on Monday night, said that “Chairwoman McDaniel has been on the road helping elect Republicans up and down the ballot and she will continue working hard to beat Biden this fall. Nothing has changed, and there will be no decision or announcement about future plans until after South Carolina.”

When she won re-election last year, McDaniel said in an interview with Fox News that it would be her last two-year term steering the national party committee.

If McDaniel does resign, her replacement would need approval from a majority of the 168 RNC committee members.

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McDaniel addressed the speculation last week in a letter to RNC members, reassuring them that she was still hard at work as RNC chairwoman, “building a machine that will elect Republicans up and down the ballot in November.” 

But an RNC committee member who asked to remain anonymous told Fox News Digital. “If Trump continues to win primaries, most of the 168 will follow his lead whether he picks Whatley or someone else.  Maybe he’ll face heavy opposition from outside the committee, but not from within it.”

Nikki Haley campaign calls Nevada caucus 'rigged' for Trump

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley waves to a crowd during a campaign event at New Realm Brewing Co., Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford) (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

South Carolina’s Feb. 24 primary is the next major contest in the GOP presidential nominating calendar, and polls suggest that Trump holds a large double-digit lead in the primary over his last remaining major rival – former South Carolina governor and former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley.

“Trump just announced he is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Under Donald Trump and current RNC leadership, Republicans lost elections in 2018, 2020, and 2022, and now the RNC is effectively bankrupt,” Haley presidential campaign manager Betsy Ankney said in a statement. “Nikki Haley’s plan for the RNC? Blow it all up.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman  contributed to this report.

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NFL team owner appears on stage with Trump during South Carolina victory speech

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NFL team owner appears on stage with Trump during South Carolina victory speech

New York Jets owner and billionaire businessman Woody Johnson stood in support behind former President Trump in South Carolina on Saturday night after Trump was quickly projected the winner of the state’s primary.

Johnson, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom during the Trump administration, was on stage alongside his wife Suzanne behind Trump as the former president delivered a speech after his quick victory in the Palmetto State primary on Saturday.

Johnson, a member of the founding family of Johnson & Johnson, has previously expressed support for the former president during the 2024 campaign. 

“Americans remember how good it was or how much better it was on the border, and inflation, and gas prices, and grocery prices, all that, during the Trump administration, and they want to get back there,” Johnson told News’ Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo earlier this month. 

JETS’ OWNER WOODY JOHNSON TAKES SHOT AT ZACH WILSON, PUTS OFFENSE ON NOTICE: ‘WE’VE GOT TO PRODUCE THIS YEAR’

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Former US Presidential hopeful and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump (C) gestures at an “Election Night Watch Party” in Columbia, South Carolina ( TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

“So I think the most important thing is getting the former president back in the White House, which looks like it’s happening.”

Fox News Digital reached out to Johnson’s representatives but did not immediately receive a response.

WATCH: TRUMP RALLYGOERS REVEAL WHOM THEY WANT AS VICE PRESIDENT

Trump Woody Johnson

Trump delivers victory speech in South Carolina (Fox News)

Trump’s rapidly-called victory on Saturday over former U.N. ambassador and former two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley in her home state moves the former president another step closer to clinching the 2024 GOP nomination. 

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“It’s an early evening and a fantastic evening,” Trump told a crowd of supporters gathered at the South Carolina state fairgrounds in Columbia, the state capitol, just minutes after polls closed and he was declared the victor.

Jets' owner Woody Johnson

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson looks on before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium on October 2, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

“Celebrate for 15 minutes, but then we have to get back to work,” he added, referencing next week’s Michigan primary, and Super Tuesday the following week.

Fox News Digital’s Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

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Authorities name mother's boyfriend as person of interest in slaying of 3-year-old boy

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Authorities name mother's boyfriend as person of interest in slaying of 3-year-old boy

Authorities have released the identity of a 3-year-old boy who was killed in his Lancaster home on Tuesday night and described his mother’s boyfriend as a person of interest in the brutal slaying.

The toddler, David Hernandez, was found with his throat cut in the 43400 block of 57th Street W when deputies arrived around 10:55 p.m., officials said. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner reported his manner of death as homicide and cause as “an incised wound of the neck.”

The Sheriff’s Department said in a news release that Rena Naulls, 39, of Lancaster, was transported to the hospital after allegedly attempting to take his own life at the scene.

Investigators said Naulls is the live-in boyfriend of the victim’s mother and named him “a person of interest” in the case. Naulls was admitted to the hospital and listed in stable condition, police said.

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The Times previously reported that a source with knowledge of the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly said a family friend went to the house at the behest of one of the boy’s relatives, found the child with his throat slit in a bathtub and called 911.

Three of the child’s older siblings, ages 9, 11 and 14, were unharmed and taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services, according to the source and the Sheriff’s Department. The Times reported that the family had no prior contacts with the Department of Children and Family Services.

No arrests have been made.

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Melania 'going to be out a lot' on campaign trail, Trump says

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Melania 'going to be out a lot' on campaign trail, Trump says

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Former President Donald Trump claims that his wife Melania is expected to make more regular public appearances on the campaign trail.

Trump made the remarks during his interview at a Fox News townhall earlier this week with host Laura Ingraham. 

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“It’s funny, she was a very successful model, very, very successful, and yet she was a private person. She’s going to be out a lot. Not because she likes doing it, but she likes the results,” he said Tuesday. “She wants to see this country really succeed. She loves the country.”

TRUMP SAYS IT’S ‘CRAZY’ HOW CHRISTIANS, PEOPLE OF FAITH CAN VOTE FOR DEMOCRATS

Former President Donald Trump sits for a town hall hosted by Laura Ingraham on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” in Greenville, South Carolina (Paul Steinhauser – Fox News )

“You know, a lot of first ladies would go out — they want to be everywhere. They get angry at their husband because he’s not introducing them,” Trump continued. “If I didn’t introduce Melania, she’d be very happy about it. She’s just a different kind of a person.”

Melania has been largely absent from her husband’s 2024 presidential bid thus far, making few public appearances and staying out of the media.

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TRUMP REVEALS VP SHORTLIST INCLUDES DESANTIS, SCOTT, RAMASWAMY, NOEM, DONALDS, GABBARD

Donald Melania Trump

Former U.S. President Donald Trump and former first lady Melania Trump arrive for a New Years event at his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Her absence, until recently, has been explained by the passing of her mother, Amalija Knavs, earlier this year. But as the campaign season becomes more intense, political commentators have questioned whether she will step back into efforts supporting Trump.

Trump also expressed appreciation that Melania has been dedicated to raising their son, Barron Trump.

“Her life revolves around that boy. It’s so important to her,” Trump said. “At the same time, it also revolves around our country and the success of our country. She’s raised a lot of money for charity. She’s a private person.”

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Former President Donald Trump attends the funeral of mother-in-law Amalija Knavs alongside his wife Melania, son Barron, and father-in-law Viktor Knav

Former President Donald Trump attends the funeral of mother-in-law Amalija Knavs alongside his wife Melania, son Barron, and father-in-law Viktor Knavs at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida. (Alon Skuy for Fox News Digital)

“And she loves the country,” Trump added. “She’s going to be out a lot, but she does it for the good of the country, not for her. She’s somebody with a lot of confidence. She doesn’t need that.”

Trump’s Fox News town hall came four days before South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary, which commences Saturday. 

The latest public opinion polls indicate that he maintains a very large double-digit lead over former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, his last major rival for the GOP nomination.

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