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The MAGA media campaign to chase “RINO” Charlie Spies out of the RNC

Many of Trump's media allies saw Spies as an enemy because he refused to say the 2020 election was rigged

Right-wing media allies of former President Donald Trump leveled a sustained and ultimately successful campaign to remove conservative lawyer Charlie Spies from his role as chief counsel at the Republican National Committee due to his perceived hostility toward the MAGA movement.

According to NBC News, Spies was ousted from his senior position at the RNC after Trump allies — including former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and conspiracy theory junksite The Gateway Pundit — pushed the former president to abandon him. 

Several other key figures in MAGA media also targeted Spies, in part because of his unwillingness to claim that the 2020 election was stolen and for his past work with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who unsuccessfully challenged Trump in the Republican presidential primary. Spies has also worked for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and other establishment Republicans figures. Some right-wing websites attacked Spies for his supposed ties to Democratic Party lawyer Marc Elias, a frequent boogeyman for conservatives. MAGA figures regularly and disparagingly referred to Spies as a “normie” and a “RINO” — a Republican in name only — because of his work history.

  • Spies was brought onto the RNC in March, but faced criticism from Trump for not embracing the lie that the 2020 election was rigged

    • The RNC hired Spies in part due to his knowledge of how to exploit “loopholes” in Federal Election Commission regulations. He is well-known in Republican circles for finding creative ways to connect wealthy donors with candidates’ super PACs. [NBC News, 5/9/24; The New York Times, 5/5/24; The Washington Post, 5/4/24

    • Trump soured on Spies once he learned that the lawyer didn’t believe that the 2020 election was stolen. In 2021, Spies told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference that allegations of voter fraud or tampering in Georgia and Michigan were baseless. “There is zero evidence that’s true,” Spies said to a booing crowd, referring to the false claim that voting machines had flipped votes in Michigan. [NBC News, 5/9/24; The Washington Post, 5/4/24]

  • MAGA media figures have been attacking Spies for his ties to establishment Republicans and his refusal to deny the results of the 2020 election

    • The National Pulse, whose founder and editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam is a close Bannon ally, began attacking Spies immediately after his hiring. A  March 12 headline referred to Spies as a “Jeb, DeSantis campaign lawyer who attacked Trump.” In the “Editor’s Notes” section at the bottom of the story, Kassam commented, “This is really fucking bad, guys.” [The National Pulse, 3/12/24]

    • Election denialist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell appeared on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast to call for the RNC to remove Spies. After ranting about the need for paper ballots and the unreliability of voting machines, Lindell said: “There’s stuff coming out of the RNC, by the way, a guy named Charlie Spies — who’s an attorney there — pushing back on stuff. Well, you know what, you’re a lawyer, you should be gone. You should have been gone a long time ago as far as I’m concerned.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 4/10/24]

    • On April 11, Emerald Robinson, a host on Lindell’s Frank Speech network, referenced Spies’ CPAC comments, asking, “Who picked this loser to work at the RNC?” Robinson later quoted that X (formerly Twitter) post following Spies’ ouster. Robinson’s April episode on Spies was titled “Exclusive: Who is Charlie Spies? The New Anti-Trump Election Fraud Denying RNC Counsel.” [Twitter/X, 5/6/24; Frank Speech, 4/11/24]

    • Also on April 11, The Gateway Pundit published an article with a headline characterizing Spies as “Connected to Marc Elias” — an election lawyer and right-wing boogeyman — and “a Rabid Anti-Trumper.” The article cited a Twitter/X account called “George News,” which posted a thread that contained Spies CPAC comments acknowledging the legitimacy of the votes in Michigan and Georgia. Gateway Pundit added, “This GOP official is totally wrong in believing the non-secure election machines are certifiable.” [The Gateway Pundit, 4/11/24; Media Matters, 2/17/22]

    • On April 15, a Just the News headline characterized Spies as someone who “worked for Romney, Bush, DeSantis, downplayed 2020 election issues.” [Just the News, 4/15/24]

  • MAGA media figures celebrated after “normie” Spies was ousted from the RNC

    • On Truth Social, former President Donald Trump posted: “Great news for the Republican Party. RINO lawyer Charlie Spies is out as Chief Counsel of the RNC. I wish him well!" [Truth Social, 5/5/24]

    • Bannon echoed his former boss, telling his War Room audience that Spies “is gone now” because “President Trump woke up to the fact that he didn't want a RINO in there who was ‘doing nothing’ on the election integrity front as the chief counsel he ordered him to be fired.” [Real America’s Voice, War Room, 5/6/24

    • The same day, Bannon appeared as a guest on The John Fredericks Show to further tie Spies to the establishment-wing of the Republican Party. “This is why, over the weekend, most important thing that happened in Mar-a-Lago was getting rid of Charlie Spies,” Bannon said. “It's another perfect example of a guy who got in there that's a complete DeSantis guy, complete Bush guy.” [John Fredericks Radio Network, The John Fredericks Show, 5/6/24]

    • Neo-Nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec shared a screenshot of Trump’s Truth Social post celebrating Spies outster on Twitter/X , writing, “Why was Charlie Spies ever hired at all??” [Twitter/X, 5/6/24; Southern Poverty Law Center, accessed, 5/10/24]

    • On May 4, The National Pulse ran a headline that read: “Bush, DeSantis Lawyer Charlie Spies FIRED By Trump From Top RNC Role.” The next day, the outlet wrote that supposedly “far-left” website MeidasTouch “Bemoans RNC Ouster of ‘Normie’ Charlie Spies.” [The National Pulse, 5/4/24; The National Pulse, 5/5/24]

    • On May 7, Kassam joined Bannon on War Room to elaborate on Spies’ removal as an element of a larger purge of the RNC. “It’s very important that people understand how swampy that whole process was,” Kassam said, referring to Spies’ initial hiring. Kassam added that Spies was brought on and had some allies at the RNC “despite his friendship with [Democratic lawyer] Marc Elias, despite his refusal to call 2020 stolen, despite the fact that he tried to have the FEC and DOJ investigate Donald Trump back in 2016.” Bannon added: “The way we get out of this is punch our way out, and complete convergence of everything on 5 November, and from people that say, ‘Hey, it was stolen before,’ we’re not going to allow, have it happen again. If you don’t have that mindset, if you don’t have that mentality, it’s like in football — go on the other team.” [Twitter/X, 5/7/24]  

    • Also on May 7, citing Kassam’s appearance on War Room, The National Pulse characterized Spies as a “campaign lawyer hired in March despite a history of legitimizing Joe Biden’s election, calling for Trump to be investigated by the federal authorities, and mocking the idea of a border wall.” [The National Pulse, 5/7/24]

    • The Gateway Pundit wrote: “JUST IN: Rabid Never-Trump Top RNC Lawyer and Marc Elias’ Friend is Out – Previously Claimed Elections ‘Can’t be Rigged.’” The article characterized Spies as “a rabid Never Trumper, who joined forces with Hillary attorney Marc Elias in 2016 to label Trump a threat to Democracy, called Trump a grifter, accused him of trying to make money by being president (remember Trump didn’t even take a salary), repeatedly claimed there was no fraud in the 2020 election, celebrated Biden’s 81 million vote heist, and supported those campaigning against Trump in this election cycle.” [The Gateway Pundit, 5/5/24]

    • Joe Hoft, brother to Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft, published a headline on his blog that read: “GREAT NEWS: RINO ATTORNEY CHARLIE SPIES REMOVED FROM RNC TOP POSITION” [, 5/6/24]

    • Right-wing website Headline USA blared: “Spies No More Among Us: RNC Cans NeverTrump Lawyer w/ Ties to Marc Elias” [Headline USA, 5/6/24]