Former US president Donald Trump
Former US president Donald Trump, pictured on the eve of the 2024 Iowa caucuses, is looking increasingly inevitable as the Republican presidential nominee. AFP

Former President Donald Trump has officially endorsed North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley to succeed Ronna McDaniel as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC). Trump has also thrown his weight behind daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, for the position of RNC Co-Chairwoman.

The latest endorsements from Trump solidifies his efforts to strengthen his grip and exert control over the RNC as he closes in on the presidential nomination.

The RNC MUST be a good partner in the Presidential election. It must do the work we expect from the national Party and do it flawlessly. 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...," Trump said in a statement.

"For these reasons, I think my friend Michael Whatley should be the RNC's next leader. 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.

Trump also praised Lara Trump as an "extremely talented communicator" committed to the ideals represented by the MAGA [Make America Great Again] movement.

"My very talented daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, has agreed to run as the RNC Co-Chair. She has told me she wants to accept this challenge and would be GREAT," the statement added.

Meanwhile, Trump also named his loyalist Chris LaCivita as RNC's chief operating officer. LaCivita will also continue in his role as co-campaign manager of the Trump campaign.

"This group of three is highly talented, battle-tested, and smart. They have my complete and total endorsement to lead the Republican National Committee," Trump added.

The former president's endorsements come after behind-the-scenes maneuvering for leadership positions within the RNC, revealing tensions between Trump and the committee that had spilled into the public domain, as reported by CNN.

Whatley's endorsement comes after Trump hinted at the possibility of changes to the RNC when asked about chairwoman McDaniel during an appearance on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures."

"I think she did great when she ran Michigan for me, I think she did OK initially in the RNC. I would say right now there will probably be some changes made," Trump said in the show.

Meanwhile, McDaniel has been under pressure to step down for months, mainly after the RNC reported poor fundraising numbers.

In his statement while endorsing new leadership for RNC, Trump said "every penny will be used properly."

Though McDaniel had expressed her intention to step down after the South Carolina primary on Feb. 24, an RNC spokesperson clarified that McDaniel would not step down or announce any plans until after South Carolina primary.

It is to be noted that Trump's endorsement alone is not enough for the appointment of leadership roles in RNC as he backed Whatley as co-chair in 2023, but did not succeed.

Meanwhile, Trump's GOP rival Nikki Haley's campaign manager Betsy Ankney called Trump's RNC plans as "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

"Everyone at the RNC will be fired...The days of overpaid consultants getting rich off of the RNC while losing elections will be over, and Republicans will finally get back to WINNING," Ankney said.