Trump Distances Bid From Second-Term Agenda Pushed by Allies

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump denounced a sweeping policy agenda crafted by some of his closest White House advisers that proposes a massive overhaul of the federal government and stacking agencies with loyalists to the former president.

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“I know nothing about Project 2025,” the presumptive Republican nominee said Friday in a post on his Truth Social platform, in the wake of controversial comments from a prominent conservative spearheading the project.

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

Project 2025 is an effort proposing a sweeping shake-up of government and a slew of conservative policies if Trump defeats President Joe Biden in November’s election and returns to power. The blueprint for a potential second term would see a conservative government potentially shutter some agencies, remove thousands of civil servants and bring in officials deemed more loyal to Trump.

Despite Trump’s pushback, the project is staffed by some of the most prominent members of his former administration. The effort is being led by Paul Dans, a former chief of staff at the US Office of Personnel Management under Trump and now the director of the 2025 Presidential Transition Project at the Heritage Foundation, one of the conservative think tanks behind the effort.

Others who contributed to the project’s “Mandate for Leadership” which lays out policy proposals for Trump include Ben Carson, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary; Chris Miller, a former acting Defense secretary; Stephen Moore, a conservative economist, who was unsuccessfully nominated by Trump to the Federal Reserve board; former White House trade adviser Peter Navarro; and Russ Vought, former director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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Biden campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa called Project 2025 an “extreme policy and personnel playbook for Trump’s second term that should scare the hell out of the American people.”

“Project 2025 staff and leadership routinely tout their connections to Trump’s team, and are the same people leading the RNC policy platform and Trump’s debate prep, campaign, and inner circle,” Moussa said in a statement.

A statement posted on Project 2025’s X account said the initiative “does not speak for any candidate or campaign.”

“We are a coalition of more than 110 conservative groups advocating policy & personnel recommendations for the next conservative president,” the statement added. “But it is ultimately up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations to implement.”

Democrats in recent days have seized on comments from Kevin Roberts, the president of the Heritage Foundation, even with their own party in turmoil over the future of Biden’s reelection campaign.

Roberts said the country was “in the process of the second American Revolution” — one he said would “remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.” The Heritage president made the comments on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast. Bannon is serving a four-month sentence in federal prison for contempt of Congress, following Navarro, who reported to a federal prison to begin serving his own sentence earlier this year.

The former president has a wide circle of advisers, both formal and informal, as those around him jockey for influence and lobby for policies he could implement in a second term.

Trump senior advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles have regularly cautioned against attributing policies being discussed by others to the former president unless he publicly endorses those plans.

In a memo LaCivita and Wiles circulated in December 2023, they said some proposals from allies were being used “to prevent a second Trump administration.”

“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,” they wrote.

LaCivita on Friday wrote, “Poke the Bear you are going to be bit,” sharing a news article about Trump’s disdain for Project 2025.

The aim of Project 2025 is to prepare Republicans for retaking the White House by laying the groundwork for new policies, training personnel and ensuring that staffers are able to move quickly to implement the new president’s priorities.

Critics of the effort have expressed alarm to some proposals such as reclassifying federal workers so they could be fired more easily, terminating the legal status of Dreamers and removing requirements that insurance cover certain emergency contraception.

(Updates with statement from Biden campaign, Project 2025 in paragraphs 7-10)

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