Trump seeks to distance himself from pro-Trump Project 2025

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Former President Donald Trump on Friday sought to distance himself from a closely aligned conservative group’s plans to radically reshape the federal government and American life should the former president win a second term.

In a post to his social media site, Trump claimed, “I know nothing about Project 2025,” the name given to a playbook crafted by the Heritage Foundation to fill the executive branch with thousands of Trump loyalists and reorient its many agencies’ missions around conservative ideals.

“I have no idea who is behind it,” Trump continued on Truth Social. “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.”

The post comes days after the president of the Heritage Foundation, Kevin Roberts, drew widespread backlash from Democrats for saying in an interview that the country was “in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.”

Project 2025 — widely viewed by conservatives as a blueprint for Trump’s second term transition — is run by several former Trump administration officials and includes many policy priorities that are aligned with those of the former president, especially as they relate to cracking down on immigration and purging the federal bureaucracy by making it easier to dismiss civil servants and career officials.

But it also includes controversial proposals Trump has not discussed, including banning pornography, reversing federal approval of the abortion pill mifepristone, excluding the morning-after pill and men’s contraceptives from coverage mandated under the Affordable Care Act, and making it harder for transgender adults to transition.

Among the chief objectives of Project 2025, its authors wrote, is: “Restore the family as the centerpiece of American life and protect our children.”

Trump’s campaign has sought for months to make clear that Project 2025 is not its official policy platform amid an intensifying effort by President Joe Biden and Democrats to tie Trump to its more controversial policies.

Yet those efforts are complicated by Trump’s extremely close relationship with many of the people who launched Project 2025 or helped contribute to it. Paul Dans, the head of Project 2025, was chief of staff at the Office of Personnel Management during the Trump administration, and the group’s roadmap for the next administration includes contributions from others who have worked for the former president, including his former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, former acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli and former deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn. John McEntee, Trump’s former director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office and one of his closest aides while in office, is also a senior adviser for the project.

Trump himself told a gathering of religious broadcasters in February that Roberts was “doing an unbelievable job” and “bringing (Heritage) back to levels never seen.”

The remarks came at a Nashville conference shortly after Roberts and Dans both addressed the same crowd. Dans shared with the audience it was his intention to serve in a second Trump administration should the former president win in November. Speaking before Trump about Project 2025 that night, Roberts said, “We want no credit” for the groundwork it is laying, and instead wanted “President Trump and his administration to take credit for that.”

The group has long stated its transition project is a template they hope will be adopted by the next Republican president, something a Project 2025 spokeswoman reiterated in a statement to CNN.

“As we’ve been saying for more than two years now, Project 2025 does not speak for any candidate or campaign. We are a coalition of more than 110 conservative groups advocating policy and personnel recommendations for the next conservative president. But it is ultimately up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations to implement,” the statement reads.

A senior Trump campaign adviser told CNN that Trump’s post disavowing the group stemmed from a series of factors, most notably the Biden campaign’s recent messaging campaign tying Trump to the project.

Project 2025 has long frustrated Trump and his top advisers, who have been annoyed with the amount of coverage its policy platforms have received and the perception that the group is working in tandem with the campaign — despite Project 2025 partnering with a series of top Trump allies.

The group’s partners include several leading conservative groups with close ties to Trump’s campaign, including those who have been tapped by Trump’s advisers to serve as part of their 2024 ground game strategy in key battleground states, such as Turning Points USA.

Other high-profile organizations partnered with Project 2025 include the Center for Renewing America, run by Trump’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget, Russ Vought, who is viewed by many in Trump’s orbit as a likely contender for another Cabinet position in a second administration and is helping to lead the GOP platform committee ahead of the Republican National Convention later this month. The Conservative Partnership Institute, run in part by Trump’s former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former Sen. Jim Demint, and America Legal First, founded by his immigration adviser Stephen Miller, are also partners.

The Biden campaign on Friday quickly dismissed Trump’s attempts to keep Project 2025 at arm’s length.

​​“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 spokesman Ammar Moussa said in a statement. “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.”

The Trump campaign has previously pushed back on reports about plans Trump’s allies are looking to implement if Trump wins reelection. Trump’s campaign managers Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita issued a statement in November arguing that “reports about personnel and policies that are specific to a second Trump Administration are purely speculative and theoretical” and that no outside groups have the authority to speak on behalf of Trump or the campaign.

LaCivita doubled down further on Friday, tweeting: “Poke the Bear you are going to be bit” while sharing an article titled: “Trump torches Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025.”

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