Amid mounting questions at the White House about Russia, three prominent members of President Trump’s family — his sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., and Eric’s wife, Lara — have ramped up their engagement with the Republican Party’s national political operation, having met privately with GOP leaders to share their concerns and outlook.
Their most recent effort came Thursday, when the president’s eldest sons and Lara Trump visited the Republican National Committee’s headquarters in Washington. Those three family members, who were invited by the RNC, stayed for about two hours, according to four people who were not authorized to speak publicly.
Their appearance at the RNC irked at least two prominent Republicans who were briefed on the session, who wondered whether it was appropriate for the president’s sons, who run the Trump family real estate business, to be highly involved in discussing the party’s strategy and resources.
But two other people familiar with the meeting said it was appropriate for the president’s sons and daughter-in-law, who all volunteered for Trump’s campaign, to huddle with Republican leaders and offer their perspective on what would be most helpful to President Trump ahead of the 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 presidential race.
Eric and Donald Jr. run the Trump Organization and manage its numerous properties and branding projects. Lara Trump is now a political operative, following her hire earlier this year as a consultant for a Trump-affiliated digital company.
The meeting came following weeks of news stories concerning possible ties between Russian officials and members of the Trump campaign and administration.
A number of RNC figures and Trump allies also attended the Thursday meeting: RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, RNC chief of staff Sara Armstrong, former Trump campaign digital strategist Brad Parscale, Trump campaign committee director Michael Glassner, and former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh, who now advises a pro-Trump nonprofit group.
Two people familiar with the meeting insisted that the Trump family did not pressure the RNC to follow their suggestions or to let them control aspects of the party. A third person said the family members made clear that they were frustrated with the way, in their view, the president has been drawn into various controversies and want the Republican Party to do what it can to help reignite his political base.
Donald Trump Jr., in particular, has been an active presence in the party over the past year and has strong relationships with many Republican officials. He regularly delivers speeches to GOP groups, including one in Indiana this month.
White House officials declined on Saturday to comment on the meeting.