Trump says he has ‘nothing to do’ with Project 2025 despite ties to MAGA allies

Former President Trump sought to distance himself from the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 on Friday, saying he has “nothing to do” with the initiative and disagrees with some of its aspects.

Trump said in a post on Truth Social that he is not involved in the right-wing think tank’s proposal, which outlines various policies and initiatives that some conservatives hope a future Republican administration would administer.

“I know nothing about Project 2025. I have no idea who is behind it,” he said. “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 900-page 2025 Presidential Transition Project is a “governing agenda” filled with conservative priorities and insight from scholars and policy experts. It is divided into sections based on five main topics — “Taking the Reins of Government,” “The Common Defense,” “The General Welfare,” “The Economy” and “Independent Regulatory Agencies.”

The project makes a wide range of policy proposals, perhaps most notably reshaping the powers of the executive branch. It also calls for striking various small government agencies and rolling back funding for abortions and approval of the abortion pill mifepristone.

Another proposal is reimplementing Schedule F, a classification for federal workers that makes it easier to fire them and replace them with loyalists. The Associated Press has estimated this could affect 50,000 workers.

Trump initially signed an executive order in October 2020 to institute Schedule F, but President Biden pulled back the order after taking office and approved a new rule to make it more difficult to fire career civil servants.

Democrats have railed against the project and pointed to it as evidence of an extreme agenda that would be brought in if Trump is reelected.

House Democrats launched a campaign last month to push back on Project 2025, forming a task force to fight what they said is a threat to the institutions of American democracy and government.

The Heritage Foundation’s project started two years ago, following criticism from supporters of Trump that workers in the federal government were part of a “deep state” working to undermine his agenda. The group has said it is not advising any candidate, and implementing any of its proposals is up to the president to decide.

A spokesperson for the project reiterated that on X in response to Trump’s post on Friday, saying it does not speak for any candidate or campaign and is a coalition of 110 conservative groups advocating for policy and personnel recommendations for the next conservative administration.

“But it is ultimately up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations to implement,” they said. “Rather than obsessing over Project 2025, the Biden campaign should be addressing the 25th Amendment.”

The coalition backing the project includes various conservative groups, some of which are led by former Trump administration officials.

Trump has not endorsed the project but has indicated his intention to bring back Schedule F if elected, saying in a campaign video last year., “First, I will immediately reissue my 2020 executive order restoring the president’s authority to remove rogue bureaucrats. And I will wield that power very aggressively.”

Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts also praised the Supreme Court’s Monday ruling on presidential immunity, which found presidents are immune to criminal prosecution for official acts, saying conservatives should feel emboldened.

“We are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be,” Roberts said.

Trump’s distancing himself from the project may undermine some Democrats’ attacks trying to connect him with it. But past reporting has shown some ties between the former president and those involved with crafting the project, though Trump advisers have previously issued statements saying that statements on policy or personnel coming from sources other than Trump or the campaign should not be considered official.

Ammar Moussa, the Biden campaign’s rapid response director, said in a statement that the project is “the extreme policy and personnel playbook for Trump’s second term that should scare the hell out of the American people.”

He said the project’s leaders and staff “routinely” emphasize their ties to Trump’s team and are leading the development of the Republican National Committee’s platform this year as well as Trump’s “debate prep, campaign and inner circle.”

Russ Vought, a Project 2025 adviser who served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget in the Trump administration, is serving as the platform committee’s policy director. Stephen Miller, a former top Trump adviser whose group America First Legal is on the project’s advisory board, was involved in Trump’s debate prep on at least one occasion.

Karoline Leavitt, a former deputy White House press secretary and a current spokesperson for Trump, appears in a Project 2025 video promoting a training program for “future political appointees” to be ready for the start of the next conservative administration.

“Trump’s Supreme Court and Project 2025 have designed the playbook for Trump to achieve his dream of being a dictator on day one, with unchecked, imperial power,” Moussa said.

And John McEntee, who previously served as the director of the White House Personnel Office under Trump and is now a Project 2025 senior adviser, said in one interview that “a lot of our work” will be integrated with the Trump campaign as the time for a presidential transition gets closer.

“Donald Trump and Project 2025 are one big MAGA operation, coordinating on an extreme blueprint to rip away freedoms and undermine democracy — and they’ve made it clear themselves,” said Democratic National Committee spokesperson Aida Ross in a statement.

Moussa posted on X following Trump’s post that the super PAC supporting the former president, MAGA Inc., has run ads promoting Project 2025. Super PACs do not coordinate with a candidate’s campaign but advocate to elect the candidate.

But a source familiar with MAGA Inc.’s effort pushed back on that, saying the website that Moussa’s post references does not promote Project 2025 but only gathers search traffic for those who were searching online for it following last week’s debate. They said the website instead promotes Trump’s actual policies, which are compared to Biden’s.

Updated: 4:09 p.m. ET

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.