Trump's Camp Says It Has Nothing to Do With Project 2025 Manifesto — Aside From Writing It

Shawn Musgrave / The Intercept

Trump administration officials and campaign staff helped draft the controversial playbook and appear in its videos.

The Trump campaign attempted to distance itself from the conservative Project 2025 playbook on Friday. Despite significant overlap between Project 2025 personnel and staffers from former President Donald Trump’s administration and campaign, Trump issued a statement saying he had “no idea who is behind” the project.

Project 2025 is spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation in partnership with dozens of right-wing advocacy organizations. It has two main components: First, a 900-page manifesto with a wish list for the first 180 days of the “next conservative administration,” including to further restrict abortion access and “dismantle the administrative state.” The second component is an application-only recruitment effort to ensure the administration is quickly staffed with loyalists.

On Friday, Trump disavowed Project 2025 in a post to Truth Social, his social media platform, saying he found unspecified parts of the project “absolutely ridiculous and abysmal.”

“I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal,” Trump wrote. “Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them.”

Trump’s vague disavowal of Project 2025 came a few days after Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, made inflammatory statements about a coming “second American Revolution” that would be “bloodless” “if the left allows it to be.”

“As we’ve been saying for more than two years now, Project 2025 does not speak for any candidate or campaign,” the Project 2025 account said in a statement on X. “But it is ultimately up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations to implement.”

Despite Trump’s claims to have “nothing to do with” Project 2025, his administration and campaign personnel contributed to the project, including Karoline Leavitt, his campaign’s national press secretary, as the Biden campaign quickly pointed out on X.

Former Trump administration officials wrote and edited massive chunks of the manifesto. One of its two primary editors, Paul Dans, who directs the Heritage Foundation’s 2025 Presidential Transition Project, served as the White House liaison for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during the Trump administration, among other positions.

Rick Dearborn, who was briefly Trump’s deputy chief of staff, wrote the White House chapter. Russ Vought, Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote the chapter on OMB and similar executive offices.

Gene Hamilton, who served in the Trump Justice Department and is now the vice president and general counsel of America First Legal, wrote the DOJ chapter. Similarly, the chapter on the Department of Homeland Security was written by Ken Cuccinelli, who held multiple positions in Trump’s DHS. The list of Project 2025 playbook contributors includes former Trump administration officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Commerce, and Department of Defense, among other departments and agencies.

Peter Navarro — who advised Trump’s 2016 campaign, served as director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and recently reported to prison for refusing to cooperate with a congressional inquiry into the January 6 insurrection — drafted a chapter on trade policy.

People close to Trump also contributed to the Project 2025’s effort to recruit conservatives for administration positions, including appearances in promos and training videos.

Leavitt, the Trump campaign’s national press secretary, is featured in a promotional video for the Project 2025 academy, along with Stephen Miller and other former Trump administration officials. According to the Project 2025 recruitment website, “The Presidential Administration Academy is a one-of-a-kind educational and skill-building program designed to prepare and equip future political appointees now to be ready on Day One of the next conservative Administration.”

According to the academy syllabus, Leavitt also co-teaches a video module in the academy titled, “The Art of Professionalism.”

“I appeared in a video for Heritage the year before I started working on the Trump campaign,” Leavitt told The Intercept when asked how the Trump campaign could claim ignorance of Project 2025. Referring to Trump’s campaign platform, she said: “Agenda 47 is the only official policy agenda of the President Trump and our campaign.”

Other former Trump administration officials listed on the Project 2025 academy syllabus include Dearborn, Roger Severino, Hugh Fike, and Bethany Kozma.