Save America, a leadership PAC created in the aftermath of the 2020 election, is set to play a key role in former President Donald Trump’s plans to keep a strong hand in party politics. | Pete Marovich – Pool/Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump amassed $31.2 million in his new political operation by the end of 2020, giving him a powerful tool to keep the Republican Party in his grip as he left office.

Save America, a leadership PAC created in the aftermath of the 2020 election, is set to play a key role in Trump’s plans to keep a strong hand in party politics — both to boost loyalists and also to seek retribution against Republicans he believes have wronged him, such as the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in mid-January. Trump cannot spend the PAC funds directly on any future campaign of his own, but he can use it to wield influence in campaigns in the midterm elections, pay his political advisers and travel the country.

“The more money [Trump] stacks up in his committee, the greater his grip will remain on many elected Republicans who will fear those resources could be turned against them,” said Rob Stutzman, a California-based Republican consultant. Stutzman said that it “should be no surprise” that Trump “has continued to fundraise well during this period.”

The money in Trump’s PAC, detailed in a new financial report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Sunday evening, was largely raised via grassroots fundraising appeals pleading for help with legal challenges aimed at the 2020 election results. But Save America spent little money at the end of last year, reporting only $218,000 in merchant fees to Republican online donation processor WinRed.

An affiliated joint fundraising committee — the Trump Make America Great Again Committee — has also filed its report. Recent fundraising calls from that group have said that it is splitting donations between Save America and the Republican National Committee, with 75 percent going to Trump’s leadership PAC and 25 percent going to the RNC.

Even after transferring over $78 million to the RNC, Save America and Trump’s campaign, the joint fundraising committee still has nearly $60 million in its own coffers. Some of that money is likely earmarked for Save America, so the $31.2 million in Trump’s new PAC could be the low end of what he has at his disposal.

The former president has already used Save America to target Republicans he sees as disloyal. The PAC’s most prominent target thus far has been Rep. Liz Cheney, the House Republican Conference chair and the most prominent GOP impeachment supporter. Save America commissioned and circulated a poll that purportedly found Cheney’s political standing under seige in Wyoming after her vote.

“Trump’s biggest weapon is his megaphone. But without his twitter account, he especially needs the money to fund his desired political infrastructure,” said Matt Gorman, a veteran Republican operative.

In some of his earliest post-White House political moves, Trump backed Kelli Ward for another term as Arizona Republican Party chair, after Ward steadfastly backed his election conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the November elections. Ward narrowly won another term. He also endorsed former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders when she entered the Republican primary for Arkansas’ open race for governor, anointing her over the state’s sitting lieutenant governor and attorney general, who were both already running.

“President Trump’s popularity has never been stronger than it is today, and his endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time,” read a statement from Save America, following Trump’s meeting with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy last week.

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