Trump Distances Himself from 'Project 2025': "I don't know anything"

Project 2025, a comprehensive conservative plan led by the Heritage Foundation, has sparked significant controversy and political debate as the 2024 presidential election approaches

by Sededin Dedovic
Trump Distances Himself from 'Project 2025': "I don't know anything"
© Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Trump's announcement came three days after Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts appeared on Steve Bannon's podcast "War Room" discussing the second American revolution. Donald Trump tried to distance himself from the comprehensive plans of a group of hardline conservatives after the Republicans' return to power, shortly after its leader stated that a second American revolution was underway that would "be bloodless if the left allows it." The Republican presidential candidate disassociated himself from Project 2025, a plan attacked by Democrats to highlight what they say is Trump's extreme political agenda for a second term if he wins against President Joe Biden in the November 5 election.

Many people involved in the project, led by the Heritage Foundation, the largest American conservative think tank, worked in Trump's White House and would likely help fill his administration if he wins in November.

US launches its Expose Project 2025 campaign outside of The Heritage Foundation on March 01, 2024 in Washington© Paul Morigi / Getty Images

But Trump said on his Truth Social platform that he had nothing to do with the plan.

"I don't know anything about Project 2025. I have no idea who is behind it," he wrote. "I disagree with some of the things they say," he continued, adding that some of their claims are "absolutely ridiculous and insignificant." Trump's announcement came three days after Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts appeared on Steve Bannon's podcast "War Room" discussing the second American revolution.

Democrats and others criticized what they perceived as a veiled threat of violence. In a statement made on Friday by a spokesperson for Project 2025, Roberts reiterated his claim that Americans are conducting a revolution "to reclaim power from elites and despotic bureaucrats" and said that it is the political left that has a history of political violence.

The spokesperson said that while Project 2025 makes recommendations for the next Republican president, it would be up to Trump, if he wins, to decide whether to implement them.

Expansion of Presidential Powers

Trump's move to create distance from Project 2025 could partly reflect an effort to soften his message in the final months of the race, especially given that Biden's campaign has stumbled following the performance at the Democratic candidate's debate on June 27, said James Wallner, a political science professor at Clemson University.

"Trump now actually wants to appeal to a broader audience," Wallner said. Biden's campaign has stepped up its efforts to link Trump's campaign to Project 2025. "Project 2025 represents extreme policies and a personal guide for Trump's second term that should instill fear in the American people," said campaign spokesperson Ammar Moussa in a statement.

The 900-page draft calls for a drastic reform of the federal government, including the elimination of some federal agencies and a significant expansion of presidential powers. Trump's statements and political stances suggest that he aligns with some, but not all, of the project's plans.

The plans were crafted by the Heritage Foundation in collaboration with a number of other like-minded groups. Many people who worked on Project 2025 have close ties to the former president. Russ Vought, who was Trump's Director of the Office of Management and Budget and leads a key committee at the National Republican Convention, authored one of the project's chapters.

Stephen Miller, a former senior Trump advisor who is expected to be chosen for a top position in a second Trump administration, leads a legal group in the advisory committee of Project 2025.

What is Project 2025?

Project 2025 has four pillars for expanding conservative influence over the U.S.

government, starting with a detailed roadmap. Along with the document, the group is creating a database of potential staff for the incoming Trump administration and training them on how the government should operate as part of the "Presidential Administration Academy." The final step will be a presidential transition manual aimed at helping the next president start work as soon as they take office.

The guide for Project 2025, titled Mandate for Leadership: A Conservative Promise, goes through government agencies one by one, outlining ways a new conservative president could reverse directives from Joe Biden's administration and organize around right-wing ideals.

The ideas in the conservative manifesto, published early last year, were the culmination of dozens of right-wing groups and were in many cases written by Trump allies or former officials he appointed. They represent the conservative consensus and aim to help the right collectively articulate what they want the new president to do in office.

The project explicitly states that it is not intended solely for Trump, and any conservative president could implement it, although the themes in the guide are in many cases closely aligned with Trump's policy goals.