NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump's presidential campaign is distancing him from efforts by allies and former aides to sketch out his plans for a possible second term, including who might fill his administration and what policies he might pursue.
In a memo Friday from senior advisers Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, the campaign said messages about a potential Trump government that come from anyone but the Republican or his team should not be considered official and are “an unwelcomed distraction.”
It is the second such memo the campaign has released in the last four weeks dismissing news reports about how those in Trump's orbit are preparing for a much more hard-right government stocked with loyalists. And it comes as Trump’s campaign has been increasingly pushing back against broader efforts to paint him and his second-term agenda as extreme.
“Despite our being crystal clear, some ‘allies’ haven’t gotten the hint, and the media, in their anti-Trump zeal, has been all-too-willing to continue using anonymous sourcing and speculation about a second Trump administration in an effort to prevent a second Trump administration,” Wiles and LaCivita said in the latest memo.
Trump campaign officials said the latest memo was in response to a recent Axios report, which cited “sources who talk often” with Trump. Axios reported Thursday that Trump intended to staff his administration with loyalists who are “full, proud MAGA warriors, anti-GOP establishment zealots, and eager and willing to test the boundaries of executive power to get Trump’s way.” MAGA is a reference to Trump's “Make America Great Again” slogan.
The Axios report included figures like Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s hard-line immigration policies; former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon; former White House and Pentagon official Kash Patel; and Jeffrey Clark, a former assistant attorney general charged alongside Trump and 17 others over efforts to overturn the results of Georgia's 2020 presidential election.
Trump's campaign advisers said he does not condone “selfish efforts by ‘desk hunters’” angling for a position in a new administration.
“People publicly discussing potential administration jobs for themselves or their friends are, in fact, hurting President Trump … and themselves," the memo said.
But even as Trump’s campaign has been blaming outside groups and allies for bad headlines, Trump himself has been vowing “retribution” against his enemies and ramping up his use of violent and authoritarian rhetoric, including saying he would only be a dictator on “day one” of his second term. He has also pledged to appoint a special prosecutor to go after President Joe Biden and has outlined an immigration agenda that includes militarizing the southern border and mass deportations.
Others in Trump’s orbit have commented on what his second term might look like. Earlier this week, Patel, in an interview with Bannon, said a second Trump presidency would “come after the people in the media.” Bannon also speculated that Patel might serve as director of the CIA in a future Trump administration.
The campaign earlier this week distanced itself from Patel's comments.
Trump aides have pushed back on the notion that a second administration would be staffed by fringe characters or without the guardrails that constrained him during his first term. They note that Trump remains in touch with figures like ex-U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer; Larry Kudlow, the Fox Business Network host who led Trump’s National Economic Council; and Kevin Hassett, who served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers.
And they say his current campaign operation has been often described as his most serious and professional to date.
Last month, Trump’s campaign advisers issued a similar memo distancing itself from plans that allied outside groups are drawing up for a potential second term for the Republican.
A constellation of conservative groups has been working to recruit thousands of people to serve in government jobs and lay out a government-in-waiting, complete with policies.
Trump's advisers said that efforts by those groups are appreciated and can be helpful, but warned that the outsiders do not speak for the campaign.
Michelle L. Price And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press