Bowing to Trump? GOP brings leaders, donors to his backyard

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, file photo, President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, en route to his Mar-a-Lago Florida Resort. Three months after former President Trump helped incite a violent attack against Congress, the GOP is bringing hundreds of donors and several future presidential prospects to the former president's doorstep in south Florida. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

There will be no reckoning at the Republican National Committee.

Three months after former President Donald Trump helped incite a violent attack against Congress, the GOP is bringing hundreds of donors and several future presidential prospects to the former president’s doorstep in south Florida.

While a handful of Republican leaders hope to move past Trump's divisive leadership, the location of the invitation-only gathering suggests that the party, at least for now, is not ready to replace Trump as its undisputed leader and chief fundraiser.

Trump himself will headline the closed-door donor retreat, which is designed to raise millions of dollars for the GOP's political arm while giving donors exclusive access to the party's evolving group of 2024 prospects and congressional leaders. The weekend event will play out in an oceanfront luxury hotel just four miles from Trump's Florida estate, where allies of the former president will simultaneously be holding their own fundraising events.

“The venue for the quarterly meeting along with Trump’s keynote speech at CPAC shows that the party is still very much in Trump’s grip,” said one of the invitees, GOP donor Dan Eberhart, referring to Trump's February address at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida. “The party doesn’t seem to have the ability to hit escape velocity from its former standard bearer."

Trump's continued hold on Republican donors and elected officials ensures that Trumpism will remain the driving force in GOP politics indefinitely, even as Trump repeats the falsehood that fueled the Jan. 6 insurrection. In several public statements and appearance since leaving office, as recently as last weekend, Trump has declared that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him.

There is no evidence of significant voter fraud. In fact, several Republican governors and leading Trump administration officials have vouched for the integrity of President Joe Biden's victory. Trump's legal claims were roundly rejected by the courts, including by Trump-appointed justices at the Supreme Court.

But absent a consistent party message following Trump's loss, a clear policy agenda or a coherent strategy to expand the GOP's appeal, leading Republican elected officials and the RNC have increasingly embraced election fraud as a chief policy priority.