Trump's post-D.C. plan takes shape with rollout of America First funding, policy, messaging arms
With eyes on 2022 midterms, former president hopes to make Washington more Republican and GOP more Trumpian.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
Nearly three months after Donald Trump's departure from the White House, his plans for a politically active post-presidential role are coming into public focus
After a comparatively quiet first five weeks in Palm Beach, Fla., following a final five in Washington plagued by all sorts of chaos, Trump stirred up excitement in late February at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where he addressed an enthusiastic crowd for 90 minutes about moving forward with the America First agenda. That plan is now moving into its operational stages, with the launch of a network of political funding vehicles and public messaging platforms.
Most prominently, there is the former president's leadership PAC — the Save America PAC — which has a war chest totaling more than $85 million heading into the second quarter of this year. That sum positions Trump to make a hefty impact on the upcoming 2022 midterm elections, during which Republicans will attempt to take back control of the House and Senate.
Trump has made it his mission not only to assist Republicans in their effort to reclaim power in Washington, but to select candidates across the country to primary those he views as out-of-sync with the America First platform.
The former president is already deploying resources to help unseat GOP incumbents like Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, whose primary opponent Kelly Tshibaka has hired several former top Trump campaign advisers. Primary candidates challenging GOP incumbents who voted to impeach Trump — including Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington — are vying for the support of Team Trump.
Top Trump communications adviser Jason Miller recently told "Just the News AM" that the former president is seeking out candidates who are first and foremost "America First conservatives."
"That means someone who supports conservative grassroots when it comes to the more populist positions on trade agreements, trying to get out of some of these endless wars, and trying to make sure that we're not throwing big, massive breaks to the fat cats on Wall Street and in D.C.," said Miller. "We're looking for someone that actually boosts up the working class men and women in America."
Another development on that front is the creation of the former president's Super PAC, which Trump 2016 Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski has been tapped to lead. Trump is looking to "engage in some of these primaries, but we have to be smart about" which ones, Lewandowski told "Just the News AM" following the announcement of the Super PAC's establishment.
"We're not looking to defeat Republicans who are in districts where if they lose the primary, the seat is going to go to a Democrat," Lewandowski said, adding that he believes "we can win races in South Carolina, we can beat Liz Cheney in Wyoming and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska."
Efforts have accelerated in April, with the announcement of Stephen Miller's "America First Legal," an organization the Trump policy and messaging stalwart has branded a conservative response to the ACLU. Miller hopes to assist Trump-allied state attorneys general who are fighting legal battles in support of the America First agenda. The organization will likely also mount challenges to Biden policy initiatives.
"Anything the president does that we believe to be illegal is fair game," Miller told the Wall Street Journal upon announcing the group. Former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will also play a role inside the organization.
This week, Trump alumni launched the largest post-administration group to date with the America First Policy Institute (AFPI), a 35-person nonprofit aiming to continue to advance the former president's populist policy agenda. The group will be headed by Brooke Rollins, the former head of Trump's Domestic Policy Council. While primarily based in D.C., the institute will reportedly also have offices in Miami and New York.
Looking ahead to 2024, Miller says the president has not yet made up his mind about a third White House bid.
"I wouldn't expect that we hear anything on this really anytime soon," said Miller.
"I think probably after the midterms is when he'll make a decision," he said, adding that the primary race remains Trump's to lose. "All the polling has shown that the president would be the clear front runner on the GOP side, if he does decide to go and run. Really, the ball's in his court."
In the meantime, GOP hopefuls have been making the trip to Mar-a-Lago for face time with the former president. Last weekend, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is enjoying a star-making moment in GOP politics right now, was spotted golfing with Trump. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was slated to deliver the keynote address April 17 at a Lincoln Day fundraising dinner hosted by the Palm Beach County Republican Party at Mar-a-Lago.
"All Republicans roads seem to lead to Mar-a-Lago," said Miller. "It's really the center of the Republican universe right now."
Rounding out this emerging array of funding, policy, and legal arms is an expected social media network. Since the permanent banning of the nation's 45th president from Twitter and Facebook in January, Team Trump has been brainstorming a platform of their own, a place for the former president to share his thoughts, along with the growing ranks of conservatives who fear retaliation from Big Tech companies that have been aggressively purging or limiting the reach of conservative users on their platforms.
"We're probably a couple months away from having that ready to go," said Miller, confirming he'd recently spoken to the former president about the project. "But the president is moving along on that."