Before dawn this morning, Axios published a piece by Jonathan Swan about Señor Trumpanzee’s fantasy second term in which the federal government is radically reshaped, “purging potentially thousands of civil servants and filling career posts with loyalists to him… The impact,” wrote Swan, “could go well beyond typical conservative targets such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Internal Revenue Service. Trump allies are working on plans that would potentially strip layers at the Justice Department— including the FBI, and reaching into national security, intelligence, the State Department and the Pentagon, sources close to the former president say. During his presidency, Trump often complained about what he called ‘the deep state.’ The heart of the plan is derived from an executive order known as ‘Schedule F,’ developed and refined in secret over most of the second half of Trump’s term and launched 13 days before the 2020 election.”
[Trumpanzee] has endorsed the work of several groups to prime an administration-in-waiting. Personnel and action plans would be executed in the first 100 days of a second term starting on Jan. 20, 2025.
Their work could accelerate controversial policy and enforcement changes, but also enable revenge tours against real or perceived enemies, and potentially insulate the president and allies from investigation or prosecution.
They intend to stack thousands of mid-level staff jobs. Well-funded groups are already developing lists of candidates selected often for their animus against the system— in line with Trump’s long-running obsession with draining “the swamp.” This includes building extensive databases of people vetted as being committed to Trump and his agenda.
The preparations are far more advanced and ambitious than previously reported. What is happening now is an inversion of the slapdash and virtually non-existent infrastructure surrounding Trump ahead of his 2017 presidential transition.
These groups are operating on multiple fronts: shaping policies, identifying top lieutenants, curating an alternative labor force of unprecedented scale, and preparing for legal challenges and defenses that might go before Trump-friendly judges, all the way to a 6-3 Supreme Court.
Swan wrote that “No operation of this scale is possible without the machinery to implement it” and names some of the fascist-oriented operatives who are planning out Trump’s next term in office— dangerous and criminal insurrectionists who Merrick Garland has refused to indict: Mark Meadows, Gym Jordan, Jeffrey Clark, Stephen Miller, Cleta Mitchell, Ed Corrigan, Devin Nunes, Russ Vought, Wesley Denton, Brooke Rollins, Dan Scavino, John McEntee, Richard Grenell, Kash Patel, Robert O’Brien, David Bernhardt, John Ratcliffe, Peter Navarro and Pam Bondi, James Sherk, Susie Wiles, Andrew Kloster, Jason Miller, Troup Hemenway.
When Trump made the extremely uncharacteristic move of transferring a million dollars from his PAC’s loot to a shady DC fascist organization called the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), it was widely assumed that it was just a bribe to shut up Mark Meadows, the new head of the group. Before the million dollar transfer Meadows had been a little too cooperative with the select committee. After the transfer— crickets. But that million dollars— making Trump the biggest single donor to the neo-Nazi organization— actually went way beyond hush money.
Yesterday, I was driving to meet a friend for lunch when NPR host Terry Gross brought on reporter Maggie Severns who had co-authored, 2 weeks ago a startling report for Grid.News, The insurrectionists’ clubhouse: Former Trump aides find a home at a little-known MAGA hub. Many of the perps on that list above “work” there at the Jim DeMint-founded anti-American center, propelling it into position as one of the most powerful messaging forces in the MAGA universe.
The Conservative Partnership Institute— which isn’t conservative at all, but reactionary and fascist— “helped found and support,” reported Severns, “the election monitoring nonprofit run by ex-Trump lawyer Cleta Mitchell, along with roughly a dozen other dark money and advocacy groups, virtually all of which share the address of the CPI town house… These organizations employ or assist at least 20 key operatives, reportedly involved in Trump’s failed effort to subvert the 2020 election… The House Freedom Caucus, whose members were allegedly involved in planning and executing strategies to derail the certification of 2020 election results to help Trump retain power, keeps its PAC at CPI’s headquarters and holds meetings at the brownstone. The Senate Conservatives Fund also calls the building home. The group has backed Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who, according to text messages obtained by the Jan. 6 congressional committee, was involved in a pressure campaign directed by Trump attorney John Eastman to get state legislators to change election results in key states. When the effort failed, Lee voted to certify the election. The fund also supports Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, who both promoted vote fraud lies and voted against certifying the election results.
CPI is structured in part to act as a 21st century megaphone for pro-Trump messaging, including media perpetuating false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, furthering MAGA-friendly culture war battles and pushing back against efforts to hold Trumpworld figures accountable.
Its tools reflect a growing right-wing communications strategy, which largely avoids mainstream media in favor of direct-to-supporter platforms like podcasts and social media, or engagements with MAGA-friendly outlets.
The offices at 300 Independence boast an in-house podcasting studio, a television studio and a host of employees with large Twitter followings. Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert is a “frequent visitor” to CPI’s television studio, according to CPI’s annual report, and she records her podcast, “Bullet Points,” at CPI, as do Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona (“What’s the Biggs Idea?”) and Matt Gaetz of Florida (“Firebrand”), as well as several other right-wing figures.
CPI also opens its facilities to right-wing outlets who help promote Trump-friendly messaging. The Epoch Times, a far-right media company affiliated with the anti-Chinese Communist Party Falun Gong religious movement, films two shows in the building, according to CPI. Right-wing outlet Newsmax filmed a documentary about Jan. 6 at CPI’s television studio.
…CPI has forged close ties to the Freedom Caucus, the far-right group of Republican House lawmakers co-founded by Meadows that was deeply involved in the events leading up to Jan. 6, according to reports and sworn testimony.
In addition to holding meetings and recording podcasts at CPI, the group runs its PAC from its offices, documents show, and some members pay dues to the organization. CPI has spent tens of thousands of dollars taking Freedom Caucus lawmakers and their aides on trips. In February 2021, just weeks after the failed insurrection, CPI flew three dozen Freedom Caucus members to Florida for an unpublicized retreat at Miami’s Biltmore Hotel, according to congressional disclosures.
According to testimony from Hutchinson, Meadows’ former aide, Freedom Caucus members met with Trump prior to Jan. 6 to press their belief that Vice President Mike Pence could delay the vote certification or send the matter back to individual states.
“We have to get organized for the 6th. I would like to meet with Rudy Giuliani again. We didn’t get to speak with him long,” Freedom Caucus member Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia texted Meadows on Dec. 31, 2020. “We are getting a lot of members on board. And we need to lay out the best case for each state. I’ll be over at CPI this afternoon.”
“On January 6, 2021, Vice President Mike Pence, as President of the Senate, should call out all electoral votes that he believes are unconstitutional as no electoral votes at all,” Jordan texted Meadows late on Jan. 5, messages Meadows later handed over to the committee showed.
Four out of five Freedom Caucus members voted against certifying the 2020 election results. Several Freedom Caucus members sought pardons for their involvement in the election subversion effort, the committee has alleged. Some have denied doing so. At least four Freedom Caucus members have been subpoenaed by the committee.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania allegedly connected Trump with little-known DOJ lawyer Clark and participated in planning meetings with Trump prior to Jan. 6;
Founding Freedom Caucus member and former chair Rep. Jim Jordan was being contacted by Meadows from the White House on Jan. 6, according to testimony;
Former caucus chair Rep. Andy Biggs allegedly helped organize the rally that segued into the storming of the Capitol, and pressured Rusty Bowers, the Arizona House speaker, to decertify electors;
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close associate of the Freedom Caucus, but not an official member, has been one of the former president’s most vocal supporters and has spread conspiracy theories about the “feds” being behind the Capitol riot. According to testimony, Gaetz was one of several members of Congress who requested broad pardons from Trump. Gaetz was a speaker at CPI’s 2022 leadership conference and records his podcast at CPI’s studios;
• Jan. 6 committee testimony revealed that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene asked Trump for a pardon, but she denies this. She faced a lawsuit in her home state of Georgia where she was forced to testify on her involvement in the effort to overturn the election. She often said she couldn’t recall key moments and meetings. In its 2021 annual report, CPI listed Greene as a “Hero of 2021,” and she spoke at the organization’s 2022 leadership conference.
…After Trump became president in 2017, long-standing institutions that had supported past presidents faltered. The Chamber of Commerce, once viewed as an adjunct of the Republican Party, sued the Trump administration over its immigration policies and, more recently, started endorsing some Democrats. The Heritage Foundation tried throwing its support behind Trump— until its leader, DeMint, was ousted after board members and donors believed the group had become too engaged in Trump-era politics. Other right-leaning think tanks, like the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, operated quietly, never providing the bevy of staff or policy ideas that think tanks usually aspire to offer the White House.
Now, a new breed of MAGA-friendly think tanks, like CPI and the America First Policy Institute, has started offering shelter to Trump aides-in-waiting. After Jan. 6 and a flurry of resignations from the administration, former loyalists told Politico they were worried about finding another job after the fallout of the insurrection, and more traditional conservative think tanks weren’t eager to hire them.
Rather than tarnish the reputation of the burgeoning think tank, having allies like Meadows and Greene have helped CPI burnish its identity, Washington Republicans said.
The group’s focus at the moment may be on deflecting attention from Jan. 6, but its gaze is facing forward, at future elections— and future MAGA administrations.
Back to this morning’s Axios story, Swan wrote that “The most important lesson Trump took from his first term relates to who he hires and to whom he listens. Trump has reduced his circle of advisers and expunged nearly every former aide who refused to embrace his view that the 2020 election was ‘stolen.’ [In other words, insane people and rebels-for-pay.] He spends significant amounts of his time talking to luminaries of the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement, including attorney Boris Epshteyn and the pillow entrepreneur Mike Lindell, who has spent at least $25 million of his own money sowing doubts about the 2020 election result. Daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner are no longer involved in Trump’s political operation. Trump still talks to Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy but their relationship is not what it once was. The former president is no longer in close contact with a variety of former officials and GOP operatives who once had his ear. This group includes former senior adviser Hope Hicks, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former campaign manager Bill Stepien.”
Swan continued that “In a second term, Trump would install a different cohort at the top than in 2017. He has said what he wants, above all, is people with ‘courage.’ Under the courage criteria, he has singled out Jeffrey Clark for particular praise. Trump has also praised Patel, who would likely be installed in a senior national security role in a second term, people close to the former president said. If Patel could survive Senate confirmation, there is a good chance Trump would make him CIA or FBI director, these sources said. If not, Patel would likely serve in a senior role in the White House. People close to the former president said Richard Grenell has better odds than most of being nominated as Trump’s secretary of state. Grenell was one of Trump’s favorite officials at the tail end of his first term. As Trump’s acting director of national intelligence, he declassified copious materials related to the Trump-Russia investigation. Grenell currently works as an executive and on-air analyst for the pro-Trump television network Newsmax. Grenell told Newsmax earlier this year: ‘I’m not going to stop until we prosecute [Trump’s former FBI director] Jim Comey.’ Speculation about the futures of these high-profile MAGA personalities obscures the detailed footwork going on in preparation for 2025… CPI will wield substantial influence on the makeup of a potential second-term Trump administration. It has a team working on a database of vetted staff that could be fed immediately to the next GOP presidential nominee’s transition team… CPI’s immediate priority is preparing to put its vetted people in new GOP congressional offices at the start of 2023. Over the past five years since CPI’s founding, the group has been adding personnel to a database that now contains thousands of names.”