American voters rejected former President Donald Trump at the ballot box in 2020, but he and his team are not going away quietly—or at all. As Axios reported Tuesday, a group of Trump administration officials and advisers is launching the America First Policy Institute, which its president Brooke Rollins says in a launch video is “working to save the soul of this country” and “continue the transformative changes that happened over the last four years.”
AFPI’s website lists at least 17 policy areas, or what it calls “centers”:
- The American Child
- American Freedom
- American Prosperity
- American Values
- The American Worker
- American Security
- Education Opportunity
- Election Integrity
- Energy Independence
- A Healthy America
- Homeland Security & Immigration
- Law and Justice
- Media Accountability
- New Frontiers Together
- Opportunity Now
- Second Chances
The Center for American Values is being led by Trump spiritual adviser and former White House aide Paula White, whose One Voice Prayer Movement served as a platform for Christian nationalism and an unofficial public relations and campaign arm of the Trump campaign. White regularly denounced Trump’s political opponents as demonic. At the Jan. 6 rally from which Trump sent his followers to the U.S. Capitol, White prayed from the stage that God would give rallygoers a “holy boldness” and that “every adversary” would “be overturned right now in the name of Jesus.” She said of Trump, “I secure his purpose. I secure his destiny.”
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are reportedly advising the AFPI, which hopes to double its initial $20 million budget by 2022. The Hill reported that the group plans to move its headquarters from the Virginia suburbs to Capitol Hill, where AFPI would be neighbors with other right-wing groups, including the massive Heritage Foundation, which helped vet Trump’s judicial nominees and supported his administration’s policies.
Separately notorious Trump adviser Stephen Miller has created his own group with the “America First” branding: America First Legal, which hopes to tie up Biden administration initiatives in the courts—something that will be easier to do thanks to the ideologues that Trump and Republican senators filled federal courts with over the past four years.
MSNBC’s Steve Benen had a snarky response to the launch of a Trumpian “policy institute”:
Why in the world would veterans of Team Trump need a “policy institute”? The group’s mission is to perpetuate the former president “policies,” which sounds vaguely interesting until one realizes that the former president doesn’t really have any policies.
Whenever Trump would try to come up with something resembling a governing agenda, it quickly became obvious that he had poorly thought-out whims, which contradicted the agenda of those around him, which were impractical and borderline illegal and which he’d routinely abandon based on random segments he saw on Fox News.
The announcement is also likely to draw the attention of white nationalist Nick Fuentes, who told attendees at his America First Political Action Conference in February that the biggest threat to the “America First” movement came from politicians who try to boost their own fortunes by using the movement’s rhetoric while advancing an establishment agenda.