The right-wing provocateur’s antics — including attacks on Martin Luther King Jr., Black pilots and Taylor Swift — have caused a rift in Trump world.

For more than a year, Charlie Kirk, the conservative activist and MAGA influencer, was aimed like a heat-seeking missile toward one goal — ousting Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel.

It’s a battle he won. Just this week, former President Donald Trump endorsed a new slate of leaders to head the party apparatus and signaled that McDaniel’s four terms would soon come to an end.

Few Republican groups have had as meteoric a rise as Kirk’s Turning Point USA, which launched in 2012. It sought to activate young conservatives and saw its fortunes grow as it attached itself to the Trump movement in 2016. The organization has raised roughly a quarter-billion dollars since, as The Associated Press reported last fall, with its fundraising exploding during the Covid pandemic.

But the RNC effort has Kirk increasingly under the microscope in Trump world. In recent weeks, at least three people, including McDaniel herself, have privately warned Trump about Kirk’s conduct, seven sources familiar with the discussions told NBC News.

Kirk came up during her conversation with the former president at his Mar-a-Lago resort this month in which her future at the helm of the RNC was discussed. It’s disputed who first brought up Kirk, but McDaniel blamed him for some of the RNC’s fundraising woes, saying his organization is collecting from donors who would otherwise fund a more robust party effort.

The discussion of Kirk was first reported by RealClearPolitics. NBC News spoke with more than two dozen Republicans for this report. Both the RNC and Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

McDaniel also asked Trump if he was aware of comments Kirk made on his popular podcast questioning whether Martin Luther King Jr. deserved a federal holiday and remarking that diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the airline industry made him skeptical that Black pilots were qualified. He was not, so she relayed them to him.

Those comments sparked a second person, Darrell Scott, a pastor from Ohio who was one of Trump’s first vocal Black allies and has been an adviser to him, to express concerns directly to the former president, four people familiar told NBC News. Scott had already shared his complaints publicly, on a podcast hosted by conservative commentator Tudor Dixon, a Trump-endorsed candidate for governor of Michigan in 2022.

Scott said he could “neither confirm nor deny” that the conversation with Trump took place. But he acknowledged that he has heard from people close to Trump who share his view that Kirk’s commentary may harm the former president’s prospects with Black voters.

“I’ve got to say, racism is like the word ‘ugly.’ I can’t always describe it, but I know it when I see it,” Scott said in an interview with NBC News. “That boy’s a racist right there.”

It’s unclear how Trump has taken to the warnings. Trump allies offered conflicting accounts of whether he was bothered by any of the issues raised to him, with one ally who has warned him about Kirk saying Trump believes Kirk is a “juggernaut.”

“Trump is f—ing pissed that Charlie is out causing problems for him in the Black community,” said another person close to Trump who claimed direct knowledge of his thinking.

Donald Trump Jr., the former president’s eldest son and a close Kirk ally, said the idea that Kirk is in anything less than “great standing with both my father and the entire Trump campaign” is “nothing more than fiction coming from people jealous of the close relationship Charlie has built with our family.”

“Frankly, it’s sad that there are some people attempting to increase their own relevancy by manufacturing lies that Charlie is on the outs,” he said in a statement. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Last year, people close to Trump said he was irked with Kirk because the conservative influencer made overtures to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as he was preparing to challenge Trump for the GOP nomination. But the Trump campaign and Trump Jr. said nothing was amiss.

“When you take on the RNC, you’re bound to make a few enemies,” Andrew Kolvet, a Turning Point spokesperson, said, adding the organization was “warned” in recent weeks “to brace for” Kirk and the group to take hits “as a parting shot from the old guard at the RNC.”

“But there will be no more business as usual, and President Trump supports and champions that,” he added. “We are his greatest defenders and Charlie’s relationship with the president remains excellent.”

What’s more, many of Kirk’s critics say his passionate effort to unseat McDaniel had less to do with the party’s lackluster electoral results in recent cycles and more to do with further bolstering Turning Point’s bottom line. The group has steered at least $15 million of its massive haul to companies affiliated with the organization or its associates, the AP reported.

At the “Restoring National Confidence” summit, hosted by Turning Point Action ahead of this month’s RNC winter meetings in Las Vegas, state and local GOP chairs were pitched on transitioning their voter outreach and canvassing efforts to an app created by Superfeed Technologies, a company led by Tyler Bowyer, the chief operating officer of Turning Point USA.

“This is why he was trying to get rid of Ronna,” the Trump ally said. “He shouldn’t make it sound like, ‘Oh, we’re tired of losing. We don’t have an early vote program.’ He should have just said, ‘Listen, he who controls the RNC controls millions of dollars and I want to get my hands on them.’ I mean, that would have been a more honest grift.”

Turning Point pushed back on the idea the effort was about boosting Kirk’s bottom line, noting that his combined income from Turning Point USA and its political arm has roughly been between $300,000 and $400,000 in recent years, a small fraction of what the group raises, and that last year he donated more than $300,000 to the organization, mostly from book royalties.

“It’s not about anything other than winning,” Kolvet said.

‘A humongous role’

A handful of Republicans close to the RNC said they felt Trump’s endorsement of a new slate of party leaders had more to do with the anemic fundraising numbers the RNC just released, combined with frustrations over the primary debate process, more so than anything Kirk and his organization did to push for her ouster. (Kolvet said the group was “one of a chorus of grassroots voices pushing for change.”)

“Charlie’s had it in for her for a long time. And Tyler as well,” Oscar Brock, an RNC committeeman from Tennessee, said.“There was only one person whose influence mattered in this deal,” he added, referring to Trump.

But that opinion was not unanimous. Kirk was influential in boosting an unsuccessful challenge to McDaniel last year. He also floated the idea that Trump should tap his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, for a party leadership post days before he endorsed her to serve as co-chair alongside North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley. And while many similarly situated online influencers lobbied for McDaniel’s ouster, few were as close to Trump and had as strong of an apparatus behind them as does Kirk.

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