The former pro wrestling executive, who had been discussed as a possible Commerce secretary, will chair Trump’s 2020 Super PAC.
Linda McMahon is stepping down as head of Small Business Administration to chair the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, according to three people familiar with the move.
Trump allies have spent weeks searching for someone to chair the super PAC, which officials view as a key plank in the president’s reelection campaign. The president’s top aides believe they will need to raise around $1 billion, and say the super PAC will be a major part of the effort. Brian Walsh, America First Action’s president, declined to comment.
The president is expected to huddle with major donors on Saturday evening at Mar-a-Lago, according to two people familiar with the plans. Trump is planning to speak to reporters at 4 p.m. McMahon is joining the president at his private club this weekend.
Trump administration officials had long seen McMahon as a leading contender to replace Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who has repeatedly angered the president, when he eventually steps down. Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has also been eyeing the Commerce job and McMahon’s exit better positions him to replace Ross.
White House and SBA spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A longtime professional wrestling executive and former Republican Senate candidate, McMahon is an original member of Trump’s Cabinet, having been confirmed for the job in February 2017. She’s also one of just five women in the president’s Cabinet.
McMahon and her husband Vince built the company that would go on to become World Wrestling Entertainment, a large multinational corporation best known for creating a universe of brand name professional wrestlers who face off in tightly scripted televised events.
McMahon, who has known Trump for years, has kept a relatively low profile at SBA. Unlike other Trump administration Cabinet officials, she has not been dogged by scandal. Inside the White House, she’s seen as a loyal foot soldier. She regularly travels around the country to promote the president’s agenda, including recent trips to promote the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal.
For the PAC job, senior Republicans had been looking for someone with deep connections to the world of GOP donors — a profile fit by McMahon, who raised millions as a two-time Connecticut Senate candidate.
McMahon is expected to fill the vacancy created when Tommy Hicks Jr., a businessman and close ally of the Trump family, left the super PAC to become Republican National Committee co-chairman.
It’s unclear who will replace McMahon at the SBA. One possible candidate, according to administration officials, is Pradeep Belur, the agency’s chief of staff, who has taken on a broader portfolio in recent months. One administration official said Belur has left the impression among some Trump aides that he’s interested in the job.
Trump has often praised McMahon’s business prowess, calling her “one of the country’s top female executives” when he announced her nomination to lead the Small Business Administration in December 2016.
McMahon stepped down as CEO of WWE in 2009 to run for Senate in Connecticut. She lost to Richard Blumenthal. She ran again in 2012, but was bested by Chris Murphy.