With Arizona GOP in Turmoil, Trump Bails on 'Freedom Fest'

Ex-president backs out of fundraiser after resignation of state GOP chief, Kari Lake accusations
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2024 7:40 AM CST
Trump Bails on Arizona Fundraiser After State GOP Flap
Former President Donald Trump raises his fist as he leaves his apartment building on Thursday in New York.   (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

The head of the Arizona Republican Party stepped down this week, after former gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake accused Jeff DeWit of trying to bribe her to back out of that state's Senate race, with a March 2023 audio recording she says proves it. It's a move that Lake, a Trump ally, believes was an attempt to hurt the ex-president's 2024 campaign. Now, in the midst of that fallout, Donald Trump has nixed a trip to Arizona to raise money for state Republicans. A spokesperson from the party tells the Arizona Republic that Trump backed out of a planned church rally Friday in Phoenix, part of the Arizona GOP's "Freedom Fest" event.

The former president's team has cited his ongoing legal issues as the reason. "President Trump will be in NYC for court Friday and unable to make the event, but will be back to Arizona as soon as possible," Trump spokesman Jason Miller says in a statement. The Republic notes that closing arguments are set to take place Friday in Manhattan in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation damages trial against Trump. Miller adds, "We look forward to winning Arizona for President Trump, electing [Senate candidate] Kari Lake, and working with the AZGOP to do it."

In the recording that sank DeWit, the now-former Arizona GOP chief had insinuated that both Lake and Trump had dim chances of winning their respective races in November. AZ Family reports that Trump had been scheduled as the keynote speaker for the Freedom Fest, which has now been canceled in its entirety, according to a spokesperson for the Arizona GOP. Event organizers tell ABC15 that full refunds will be issued to those who had tickets, with the money expected to be returned within three to five business days. (More Donald Trump stories.)

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