Lara Trump, daughter-in-law of Donald Trump, speaks at the Republican National Committee spring meeting last week
Lara Trump, daughter-in-law of Donald Trump, speaks at the Republican National Committee spring meeting last week © AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to US Election Countdown. Today we’re talking about: 

  • Turmoil at the Republican National Committee — and the Democrats’ glee 

  • What voters say about US aid to Ukraine  

  • Citadel chief Ken Griffin’s US election prediction

This is an on-site version of the US Election Countdown newsletter. You can read the previous edition here. Sign up for free here to get it on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Email us at

The Democratic National Committee has seized on its Republican counterpart’s internal turmoil and fundraising struggles in a memo this week, as the FT’s James Politi and Lauren Fedor reported in this scoop [free to read]. 

“Voters, donors, and staff alike are either fleeing the Maga-fied Republican party or being chaotically forced out in a mass purge, casting a troubling shadow on the committee’s balance sheet and their prospects at the ballot box leading into a critical election year,” wrote DNC executive director Sam Cornale. “The RNC’s finances are in shambles.”

As Donald Trump racked up primary election victories (he and Joe Biden now have enough delegates to clinch their respective parties’ nominations), the former president orchestrated a shake-up at the Republican National Committee, which coordinates strategy and fundraising for its races across the country. Chair Ronna McDaniel is now gone, replaced by two Maga allies: Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump and Michael Whatley, former chair of the North Carolina Republican party. 

Amid this overhaul, the Republican party has also fired dozens of staffers, in a move Trump advisers described as an effort to streamline operations, which has been great news to the DNC.

“We have to make sure we’re smart with the donors’ money, and if donors are concerned that there is a bureaucracy that’s too bloated, and some of the folks in the building have lost their way, we have to rightsize that,” senior Trump adviser Jason Miller told Fox News earlier this week.

The Trump campaign and the RNC have lagged behind their Democratic counterparts in terms of fundraising. At the end of last year, Biden groups had about $118mn on hand, compared with the Trump groups’ $66mn.

In the DNC memo, Cornale argued that Republicans were turning off donors by continuing to foot Trump’s legal bills. Despite Biden’s fundraising advantage, Trump still leads the president in the polls by 2.1 per cent, according to a RealClearPolitics survey average.

Join us on Saturday May 4 in Washington, DC and online to see the FT US Weekend Festival. Speakers include US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, political scientist Ruy Teixeira and FT journalists such as Roula Khalaf and Martin Wolf. As a newsletter subscriber, claim a discount on your pass using promo code NewslettersxFestival.

Campaign clips

  • Biden plans to intervene in Japanese group Nippon Steel’s proposed $14.9bn acquisition of Pennsylvania-headquartered US Steel. Both Biden and Trump have courted union votes in the state. [Free to read]

  • A judge overseeing Trump’s criminal case for alleged election interference in Georgia has dismissed six of the 41 counts against him.

  • In congressional testimony this week, special counsel Robert Hur, who was appointed to investigate Biden’s handling of classified materials, defended his bombshell report that cited the president’s memory lapses.

  • Independent presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr is expected to announce his running mate within the next two weeks. He’s reportedly spoken to American football player Aaron Rodgers and ex-Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, a former professional wrestler. (Washington Post)

Behind the scenes

My fellow ex-Chicagoan Ken Griffin — billionaire founder of hedge fund Citadel — thinks Trump will win the election and that his presidency would be better for investors than another Biden term.

“A Trump administration’s good for our capital markets. It encourages the sense that the government’s aligned with you and not opposed to you,” he said at the Futures Industry Association’s annual conference in Florida.

When asked who would win the election were it held tomorrow, the Citadel chief said “Trump wins it.”

Griffin, a Republican mega-donor, originally backed Nikki Haley’s campaign. He stopped short of endorsing Trump, jokingly asking if he could “just have a moment to be sad about Nikki?” after she withdrew from the race last week. Griffin said he wanted to see what Trump’s policy platform would look like before officially backing him.

The investor touted his working relationship with the former president as “fantastic”:

“He listened . . . he’s very different in a small room with a small number of people. He really engages on problems. He really tries to get to the heart of the matter. He really tries to do what he believes is best for our country.”


At the top of his State of the Union last week, Biden called for Congress to approve more military assistance for Ukraine, saying that if the US were to walk away from Kyiv now, it would put Ukraine, Europe and “the free world at risk, emboldening others who wish to do us harm”.

But US voters are not convinced.

Forty-six per cent of voters surveyed in the FT-Michigan Ross poll said the US was spending too much on Ukraine aid while 35 per cent thought the country was spending about the right amount or not enough, according to the March edition of the poll.

The US has scraped together $300mn in stop-gap funding for Kyiv’s ammunition and artillery, cobbled together from recent savings on army contracts, but the $60bn in new aid that Biden has called for is being held up by the Republican-controlled lower chamber of Congress.


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