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A little hard to believe Trump has 'no idea' about Project 2025

“I know nothing about Project 2025,” Donald Trump posted on his proprietary social-media network on Friday. “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.”

“Anything they do, I wish them luck,” Trump continued, “but I have nothing to do with them.”

It’s a little hard to believe that Trump has “no idea” that Project 2025 is a Heritage Foundation initiative devoted to crafting a governing agenda for the former president’s second term. Indeed, the project has received the intense scrutiny that it has from the left and right alike in part because the former president has left so many of his policy preferences outside the realms of trade and immigration vague.

Trump’s sudden decision to distance himself from Heritage follows remarks delivered by the foundation’s president, Kevin Roberts, in which he warned Americans that we are “in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.” This particular sort of heavy-breathing hyper-partisanship used to be exclusive to fundraising solicitations aimed at audiences suffering from overexposure to the internet, but it increasingly finds its way into more diverse venues. Trump’s effort to create some daylight between Heritage and its president and his campaign may be smart politics, but he’s unlikely to be able to wash his hands of the place with a single social-media post.

Exactly which aspects of the Project 2025 agenda does the former president find “ridiculous and abysmal”? If Trump declines to answer the question, the Biden campaign (or whatever succeeds it) will answer it for him. As Biden campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa alleged, Trump’s primary super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., is running paid advertisements promoting the project. The incumbent’s campaign has cited the Heritage Foundation’s work in alleging that a second Trump term will be one in which Republicans attempt to curtail access to contraception, criminalize certain forms of expression, and allow the president to oppress minority groups. The Biden campaign’s website maintains that Project 2025 “terminates the Constitution,” would “gut democratic checks and balances,” and “consolidate power in the Oval Office.”

This, too, is bombast tailored for consumption exclusively among partisan Democrats. But if Trump doesn’t get more specific, Democrats and their allies in the press will claim — with some justification — that the former president has conceded the truth of their characterization of Heritage’s project. The inducement to clarify his remarks might also compel Donald Trump to craft a broader outline of what he intends to do with the power he’s asking voters to vest in him. Voters would certainly benefit from a little more candor and clarity from the front-runner in the race for the White House.

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