What is Project 2025? The ‘dystopian’ manifesto for Trump’s second term

A 900-page plan drawn up by former Donald Trump aides and endorsed by a powerful right-wing think tank is giving the former president a roadmap for his second administration.

Project 2025 — a blueprint for Trump’s presidency spearheaded by the Heritage Foundation and more than a dozen former Trump administration officials — is essentially a wishlist for his administration with plans to expand his executive authority, replace civil servants with ideologically aligned appointees, crush abortion rights and impose an anti-immigrant agenda, among other policies.

Following President Joe Biden’s announcement on Sunday that he would be stepping aside to let Vice President Kamala Harris mount her own bid for the Oval Office, Harris posted on X and took direct aim at the right-wing agenda.

“I will do everything in my power to unite the Democratic Party — and unite our nation — to defeat Donald Trump and his extreme Project 2025 agenda,” she said. “If you’re with me, add a donation right now.”

Meanwhile, the former president is desperately trying to distance himself from the plan, claiming that he knows “nothing” about it or “who is behind it,” despite its authors coming from Trump’s White House and the GOP’s close ties to the group that launched it.

At a rally in Michigan on Saturday, just one week after a 20-year-old gunman opened fire at a Trump event in Butler, Pennsylvania, killing one attendee and injuring two others while only slightly injuring the candidate’s right ear, Trump told the crowd, “Some on the right, severe right, came up with this Project 25, I don’t even know, some of them I know who they are, but they’re very, very conservative. They’re sort of the opposite of the radical left.”

“You have the radical left and the radical right and they come up — I don’t know what the hell it is, it’s Project 25,” Trump went on, bungling the initiative’s name. “They read some of the things and they are extreme, they’re seriously extreme. But I don’t know anything about it, I don’t want to know anything about it.”

Project 2025’s core policy book Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise outlines major changes across the federal government, from the White House to lesser-known agencies, with chapters written by former Trump officials. Further, many of Project 2025’s policies are virtually identical to ones proposed by Trump.

As The Independent previously reported, the plan would gut checks and balances to give Trump unprecedented, concentrated executive authority over federal agencies. An incoming Trump administration would roll out a blitzkrieg of firings across federal agencies to open the door for an army of loyalists to weaponize the government against his rivals.

The plan recommends abolishing the US Department of Education, slashing funds for federal law enforcement agencies, and subverting agencies that regulate the airwaves and campaign financing to choke out dissent.

Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Las Vegas on June 9. Now, Democrats have created a task force to go against a think-tank’s conservative road map if he returns to the White House. (Getty Images)
Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in Las Vegas on June 9. Now, Democrats have created a task force to go against a think-tank’s conservative road map if he returns to the White House. (Getty Images)

That consolidation of power would also insulate him against legal threats and usher in a wave of attacks against immigrants, reproductive healthcare and civil rights protections for LGBT+ people.

The plan also would revoke the federal government’s approval of widely used abortion drugs, expand the nation’s nuclear footprint and restart nuclear weapons testing, and activate active-duty military to make arrests at the US-Mexico border, among other proposals.

House Democrats led by California Rep. Jared Huffman created a Stop Project 2025 Task Force to coordinate with members of Congress, pro-democracy and civil rights groups and impacted communities “to coordinate on examining, highlighting, preempting, and counteracting this right-wing plot to undermine democracy.”

“Project 2025 is more than an idea, it’s a dystopian plot that’s already in motion to dismantle our democratic institutions, abolish checks and balances, chip away at church-state separation, and impose a far-right agenda that infringes on basic liberties and violates public will,” Huffman said in a statement on June 11.

“This is an unprecedented embrace of extremism, fascism, and religious nationalism, orchestrated by the radical right and its dark money backers,” he said. “We need a coordinated strategy to save America and stop this coup before it’s too late.”

Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts. (AP)
Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts. (AP)

Project 2025 was drafted by dozens of former Trump administration officials and other loyalists, nearly half of which are the recipients of dark money contributions from groups tied to conservative donor Leonard Leo, who helped usher in Trump’s radical restructuring of the federal judiciary.

The plan’s overhaul of the federal government also poses threats to marriage equality and public school funding and could “trample the wall of church-state separation and upend our democracy,” according to Rachel Laser, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The nearly 1,000-page plan opens with a “promise” to eliminate abortion access, and “abortion” is mentioned nearly 200 times.

“And their attacks don’t stop with abortion,” according to Karen Stone, vice president of public policy and government relations with Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “They’re also planning to restrict funding for birth control and other preventive care and attacking gender-affirming care and sex education.”

The task force also will serve as a public messaging campaign as interest on Project 2025 surges on social media.

Members will hold public forums in the months leading up to Election Day. But the task force could also function as a key bulwark in Congress against Trump’s agenda, if elected.

Democratic US Rep Jared Huffman is leading a task force against Project 2025’s plans for Donald Trump’s presidency. (AP)
Democratic US Rep Jared Huffman is leading a task force against Project 2025’s plans for Donald Trump’s presidency. (AP)

“Project 2025 will not be ‘stopped’ by an unserious, mistake-riddled press release or a task force of House Democrats lacking a basic understanding of federal governance,” Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts said in a statement. “The task force launched by House Democrats only underscores the Left’s fear of losing its grip on their authoritarian bureaucracy ... We will not give up and we will win.”

Trump campaign advisers Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita said last year that the “any personnel lists, policy agendas, or government plans published anywhere are merely suggestions.”

Efforts from outside groups like the Heritage Foundation are “appreciated” but do not speak for the campaign, they said.

In a statement denying connections to the campaign, the Heritage Foundation said the plan is merely a guideline “for the next conservative president.”

“But it is ultimately up to that president, who we believe will be President Trump, to decide which recommendations to implement,” the group said.

This story was initially published in June 2024 and has been updated with developments