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Trump and Republican Party Agree to Join Fundraising Forces

The deal cements a shift in campaign strategy for Trump, who is adopting more traditional campaign tactics with an eye towards the general election.
Image: Donald Trump
Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a photo after an interview with Reuters at his office in Trump Tower in New York City on May 17, 2016.LUCAS JACKSON / Reuters

Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee have finalized an agreement that will allow individual donors to contribute nearly half a million dollars each toward electing the presumptive nominee and other down-ballot Republicans this fall.

The agreement cements a shift in campaign strategy that’s been in the works for weeks, as Trump adopts more traditional campaign tactics with an eye towards the general election. Though he largely self-funded his primary campaign — often touting the fact as evidence he can’t be "bought" like typical politicians — he has recently acknowledged the need to tap donor money for the general election, where he’s expected to face an onslaught of hundreds of millions of dollars in Democratic attack ads.

The agreement, announced late Tuesday night by both the Trump campaign and the RNC, sets up two joint fundraising committees — the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, an alliance between the Trump campaign and the RNC; and the Trump Victory Fund, a joint committee that includes the Trump campaign, the RNC and 11 state parties — Arkansas, Connecticut, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

The deal must still be ratified by the participating states and that could still take several days, sources tell NBC News.

An individual will be able to contribute as much as $449,4000 to the Trump Victory Fund — the largest sum solicited by a presidential candidate for such a committee in recent history, according to an RNC statement announcing the agreement.

Hillary Clinton has also established a joint fundraising venture with the Democratic National Committee, but contributions to that fund are capped at just over $356,000.

The Trump campaign will receive some of the money raised by the joint fundraising committee, but individual contributions to the campaign itself are capped at $5,400 — the bulk of the money raised will go to the RNC or the state parties involved.

In a statement, Trump said his campaign was "pleased to have this partnership in place with the national party."

"By working together with the RNC to raise support for Republicans everywhere, we are going to defeat Hillary Clinton, keep Republican majorities in Congress and in the states, and Make America Great Again," he said.

Under the joint fundraising agreement, Trump has agreed to participate in a series of high-dollar fundraisers in support of the Trump Victory Fund beginning next week in Los Angeles.

In a recent interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt, Trump said he hopes to raise over $1 billion, a tall order for any candidate but a particularly daunting target for one with only a skeleton fundraising apparatus and little fundraising experience. Trump’s campaign only named a finance chairman two weeks ago — former Goldman Sachs partner Steven Mnuchin, a political novice — and many major donors are still sitting on the sidelines, either unsure of where to contribute their money or wary of supporting Trump’s controversial candidacy.

But Trump Victory appears intended in part to remedy that, as it will be chaired by RNC Finance Chairman Lew Eisenberg, a seasoned and trusted GOP fundraiser with a wide network of deep-pocketed donors.

"Lew Eisenberg is going to do an outstanding job leading this effort," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said. "Lew has already helped the RNC raise a record $135 million in support this cycle, and I have every confidence his track record of success will continue in this new role."

Still, it’s a late start for the party’s nominee, and Trump and the RNC remain far behind the DNC’s joint effort with the Clinton campaign. The Hillary Victory Fund — the committee that includes Clinton’s presidential campaign, the DNC and 32 state party committees — has already raised $61 million since its creation.