WASHINGTON — Conservative Republicans are already laying the groundwork for Donald Trump’s return to the White House, identifying key Cabinet and other possible top officials months before the first nominating contest next year.
The America First Policy Institute, created to promote Trump’s agenda, and the conservative Heritage Foundation have spearheaded separate initiatives that would help the next Republican president transition into the role.
AFPI, which detailed its plans publicly at an event in Washington on Wednesday, is focused on creating how-to guides for incoming staffers complete with policy recommendations from people who served during the Trump administration. These playbooks are being created with the input of nine former Cabinet members, 20 White House senior aides and 400 other former administration officials, the group said.
“We’re laying out policy ideas but we’re also doing the simple-but-often-overlooked work of laying out how to get that done,” said former Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, who now chairs AFPI. She was joined Wednesday by Trump administration officials including former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.
The efforts show how Trump, despite facing a crowded roster of challengers, is already the de facto Republican nominee. They also demonstrate how the GOP establishment in Washington has morphed from being unprepared on how to deal with Trump in 2016 to proactively planning his next ascent. The groups say any Republican nominee could use their proposals, but their efforts are being developed with Trump-focused people and policies in mind.
“It’s really about reining in the administrative state and making sure the next America First administration can hit the ground running,” said Doug Hoelscher, a former Trump official who’s leading the project at AFPI. “We’re really laying the practical perspective on how the next America First president can implement their plans more quickly.”
The result is that Trump — who left many top political appointee posts unfilled because he said they were “unnecessary” — could come to White House for a second time as one of the most prepared Republican presidents to remake the federal bureaucracy in his own image.
The groups are creating resume banks and guides for incoming officials to quickly enact Trump’s favored policies. They have begun to develop policy, but have yet to share their recommendations for people to fill key roles.
AFPI President Brooke Rollins said the idea wasn’t to replace the next president-elect’s official transition committee — a sanctioned entity funded by Congress to facilitate the transfer of power — but rather to give it a head start.
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