Trump tries to distance himself from Project 2025 plan (2024)

Former president Donald Trump sought Friday to distance himself from a conservative think tank’s plan for the next Republican presidency, as Democrats work to make it a political vulnerability for Trump in the November election.

The plan from the Heritage Foundation, known as Project 2025, pitches a sweeping overhaul of the federal government should Trump win a second term, including far more power for the executive branch. Many people involved in the effort are former Trump administration officials, and Trump publicly allied himself with the think tank as president.

Despite that, Trump said on his Truth Social platform that he knows “nothing about Project 2025.”

“I have no idea who is behind it,” he wrote Friday. “I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them.”

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The Heritage Foundation’s president, Kevin Roberts, generated controversy three days ago for claiming in a media appearance that the country was in the middle of a “second American revolution” that will be bloodless “if the left allows it to be.”

“Project 2025 is the extreme policy and personnel playbook for Trump’s second term that should scare the hell out of the American people,” Biden campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa said in a statement on Trump’s effort to distance himself from the plan. “Project 2025 staff and leadership routinely tout their connections to Trump’s team, and are the same people leading the [Republican National Committee] policy platform and Trump’s debate prep, campaign, and inner circle.”

In a statement posted to X, Project 2025 emphasized it was independent from the Trump campaign.

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“As we’ve been saying for more than two years now, Project 2025 does not speak for any candidate or campaign,” the statement said, noting the project represents more than 110 conservative groups planning for the next GOP president. “But it is ultimately up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations to implement.”

Trump’s campaign last year sought to downplay Project 2025 as “policy recommendations from external allies.” But Biden’s campaign and other Democrats have made an aggressive effort to make Trump answer for the plan.

Last month, House Democrats launched a task force to counter Project 2025. And on Friday, hours after Trump’s post about Project 2025, multiple speakers at a Biden event in Wisconsin rallied supporters against the plan.

“When you go home, Google ‘Project 2025’ and tell everybody you know to do the same,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) said.

A centerpiece of the plan is a massive shake-up of the federal workforce to make it more loyal to the president, a proposal that aligns with Trump’s longtime complaints about a “deep state” bureaucracy that he accused of undermining his first-term agenda. Project 2025 touches on other politically sensitive issues, including calling for the Food and Drug Administration to “revisit and withdraw its initial approval” of the abortion pill mifepristone. Trump recently said he does not want to block access to mifepristone.

People involved in Project 2025 include Ben Carson, Trump’s former housing secretary; Peter Navarro, White House trade adviser under Trump; and Russ Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget under Trump. Earlier this year, Trump and the Republican National Committee named Vought as policy director for the RNC committee crafting the party platform ahead of its national convention this month in Milwaukee.

Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is a senior partner in one of the groups advising Project 2025, the Conservative Partnership Institute. And John McEntee, director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office under Trump, serves as a senior adviser to Project 2025.

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As president, Trump spoke to the Heritage Foundation in 2017, lavishing praise on the organization and asking for its help in getting his proposed tax cuts through Congress.

Asked Friday about the ties between Trump and Project 2025, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung said in an email that the campaign has “been saying outside groups like Project 2025 do not reflect campaign strategy or policy for months.” He pointed to a statement released last year by top Trump advisers that sought to tamp down speculation about second-term plans.

“Let us be very specific here: unless a message is coming directly from President Trump or an authorized member of his campaign team, no aspect of future presidential staffing or policy announcements should be deemed official,” the statement said.

Biden’s campaign also pointed out that a Trump campaign spokesperson, Karoline Leavitt, appeared in a September 2023 video promoting Project 2025′s training program for potential future political appointees. The video features several former Trump administration staffers identifying themselves, with Leavitt noting she was Trump’s assistant press secretary.

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Asked about the video Friday, Leavitt said in a statement that she appeared in the video “before I started working on the Trump campaign.” She worked for a pro-Trump super PAC in 2023. She added that Agenda47, Trump’s reelection campaign platform, “is the only official policy agenda of President Trump and our campaign.”

Biden’s campaign criticized the Heritage Foundation president’s comments about a “second American Revolution,” made just two days before the July Fourth holiday.

“248 years ago tomorrow America declared independence from a tyrannical king, and now Donald Trump and his allies want to make him one at our expense,” Biden campaign spokesperson James Singer said in a statement Wednesday.

Trump tries to distance himself from Project 2025 plan (2024)

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