RNC won't pay Trump's legal bills, daughter-in-law Lara says, insisting 2020 election is 'in the past'

She also said the former president is coming around on early voting.

March 27, 2024, 3:27 PM

Former President Donald Trump's daughter-in-law, recently elected Republican National Committee co-chair Lara Trump, said in a new interview that the national party doesn't plan to pay his ongoing legal bills and maintained that donors could opt-out of contributing funds for that if they want to.

Lara Trump also differed with her father-in-law on the importance of early and mail voting while insisting that Republicans are moving past 2020 election -- though, like Donald Trump, she continued to raise doubts about the results without offering any evidence of widespread fraud.

Appearing on NBC News on Wednesday, Lara Trump discussed a new joint fundraising committee linking the party and the Trump campaign.

The fine print on how that new joint committee is arranged suggests a priority is funneling money into the Trump campaign as well as a political action committee, Save America, that has paid a significant portion of Donald Trump's ongoing legal bills. One upcoming fundraiser for the new joint committee shows that Save America is ahead of groups like the RNC and 40 state party committees when it comes to the order for how donations are disbursed.

Lara Trump said on NBC, however, that donors don't have to give money that way.

"Anyone who does not want to contribute to that very small amount of money is able to opt out of that … [If you] don't want that specific amount to go to Donald Trump's legal bills, then you are very -- you can very easily opt out of that," she said.

She was referencing how the Trump campaign and the RNC are now raising money together through the joint fundraising committee -- where a small part of that money goes to Trump's Save America leadership PAC, which is able to pay the former president's legal bills. But donors could also choose to donate directly to the RNC or to a different fundraising vehicle that doesn't include Save America, according to an RNC spokesperson.

Though legal bills make up nearly 80% of Save America's total expenditures so far this year, according to financial filings, a Trump spokesman said in a statement that Save America also "covers a very active and robust post-Presidency office and other various expenses."

Lara Trump said on NBC that the RNC "does not support paying his legal bills, no." A previous effort to pass a formal resolution preventing that failed within the party, however.

Having said before becoming co-chair that "every penny" of the party's funds should be prioritized toward Donald Trump's reelection, Lara Trump has since modified that stance. On Wednesday, she appeared to take an expanded view of the party's responsibilities, noting that they'd also prioritize down-ballot races: "I will ensure that every penny of every dollar is going to causes that Republican voters care about."

Lara Trump speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), March 3, 2023, in National Harbor, Md.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Views on 2020 election

Lara Trump again voiced support for early voting and vote-by-mail efforts.

Donald Trump has occasionally spoken positively on in-person early voting, especially during the South Carolina primary last month when he repeatedly told his supporters at campaign rallies to go vote as early voting was underway.

Mail-in voting, however, is something he continues to publicly rail against, baselessly suggesting they allow illegitimate ballots.

"Anytime the mail is involved, you're going to have cheating," Donald Trump falsely claimed during an interview with GB News' Nigel Farage last week.

However, Lara Trump claimed on NBC that the former president would change his tune due to what she called the election security initiatives that the RNC is working on.

"We have to start encouraging Republican voters to do things like voting early, trust mail-in voting. These are ways that we actually can have a big lead as we head into Election Day," she said. "And these are things that traditionally Republicans have sort of shied away from. You look at things like legal ballot harvesting -- we've never embraced that as a party. We're embracing it this election cycle."

Of her father-in-law, she said, "I actually think if you talk to him right now, you will see that he is very much embracing early voting."

And though she claimed that "we're past that" when talking about the 2020 election, which Donald Trump continues to falsely claim was marred by fraud, Lara Trump also pushed unfounded claims about the security of that race.

"I think that's in the past. We learned a lot. Certainly we took a lot of notes," she initially said on NBC, referring to 2020.

When asked how Republican voters would trust the results of the 2024 election if Donald Trump loses and continues to doubt the results, she added, "I think that we're putting a lot of things in play right now at the RNC that are going to ensure that people have more trust."

She contrasted that with 2020, alleging that "there were so many issues in that election," drawing pushback from NBC about the multiple audits and lawsuits that ultimately found that the results of the election were legitimate.

Numerous local elections officials, from both political parties, certified the 2020 election results across the country and found there wasn't widespread fraud. No major legal challenge to the election was successful either.

ABC News has confirmed the RNC has been asking those seeking employment within the organization if they believe the 2020 election was stolen, according to a source familiar with the matter.

As first reported by The Washington Post, over the past few weeks, advisers to former President Trump have asked current and potential RNC staffers about their views on the 2020 presidential election -- serving as an apparent litmus test for hiring.

In a statement, RNC spokesperson Danielle Alvarez told ABC News: "Potential staffers who worked on the front line in battleground states or are currently in states where fraud allegations have been prevalent were asked about their work experience. We want experienced staff with meaningful views on how elections are won and lost and real experience-based opinions about what happens in the trenches."

Lara Trump speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), March 3, 2023, in National Harbor, Md.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

'The reason that I'm here'

In her NBC interview, Lara Trump also seemed to split with the former president on abortion, though she claimed they were on the same page. She said that he "agrees with allowing the states to decide," though he has not publicly taken a position on backing a nationwide ban, as some Republicans have proposed.

He has said the issue is "probably better" to leave to the states. In private, he has expressed support for a 16-week national abortion ban with exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother, ABC News reported in February, citing two sources.

At the time, the Trump campaign did not deny the reporting but issued a statement that said he would work to find middle ground on abortion.

Lara Trump on NBC on Wednesday also dismissed criticisms of nepotism in her new role.

"I think the reason that I'm here is to assure people who ever had any question as to how their money is being spent -- can they trust the RNC? Can they donate to this entity?" she said. "Trust me, I am the daughter-in-law of Donald Trump."

ABC News' Hannah Demissie, Katherine Faulders and Rachel Scott contributed to this report.