Project 2025 senior advisor John McEntee on staffing the next Trump administration: “Sometimes experience is bad”

McEntee: “The number one thing actually to see a job through is not caving to media pressure”

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Citation From the January 27, 2024, edition of 13th and Park uploaded to YouTube

ADAM GOODMAN (HOST): What would a good applicant come off as versus another that's maybe not quite ready for prime time?

JOHN MCENTEE (GUEST): Well, the number one thing you're looking for is people that are aligned with the agenda. And the last time I think we had a few people that weren't and that's OK, but you shouldn't work there. The president's entitled to a staff that sees the world his way and is going to see it through.

So the number one thing is being aligned with the agenda, the second would be competency, you know, being able to actually work in the environment and experience doesn't matter quite as much because there's a lot of junior roles as well and sometimes experience is bad, but it's more about just being able to do the job. And the number one thing actually to see a job through is not caving to media pressure because if you're in an important role, they are going to come after you.

It's only a matter of time. And that's where you separate people from - pretenders from the contenders. You know, that's when the lights are on, when the game's on the line, when MSNBC is doing their segment can you see it through, you know? 

And you can kind of tell when interviewing people but you - at the end of the day, you don't really know until they're in the position. But luckily we had a lot of good people the first time we can pull from that have kind of grown. They were in more junior roles, they can become more senior roles and we're starting the process so early to give ourselves a leg up at the end of the day, it's just whoever the president wants and his team wants. 

But what Project 2025 is doing is helping facilitate that; just giving these people a head start. You know, if you win, hit the ground running this time, there's so much to do. People are so excited. They want to be a part of it. A lot of times they don't know where to go. I didn't know where to go. I was emailing random Trump merchandise shop like, you know, I had no idea where to go. If you want to work and make a difference, you can go to, you can apply, you can take the training, you can learn about being a political appointee and how to be effective, which is so important. OK, you got the job now, what do you do? How do you take on the bureaucracy? How do you do all of these things? So that's what we're trying to help, just give the president a little leg up on staffing.

GOODMAN: But it's, it's really a kind of a delicate combination between commitment to mission and the ability to deliver on that mission. Right. You have to have both.

MCENTEE: You do have to have both.

GOODMAN: You could have great loyalists who are not skilled at all and wonderfully skilled people who are not ready to follow through.

MCENTEE: Yeah, a lot of the people in our movement might be too crazy to work there, you know, like, and their hearts in the right place, but they actually wouldn't be effective as an appointee. So kind of just figuring out who's right. Also, you have people that aren't good in a particular role, but they might be better in a different one. So it's moving people around as well. When we interviewed every single political appointee, all 4,000, we realized, ok, not a lot have to be removed but some have to be moved around. So it's about finding out where people's strengths are, where they're most aligned with the president, putting them in that role.

John McEntee was the body man to former President Trump before becoming the director of the Presidential Personnel Office. In his role at the PPO, he reportedly prioritized loyalty to Trump over professional experience while vetting potential political appointees. In the weeks before January 6, McEntee played a critical role backing Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. In May 2023, he joined the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 as a senior advisor. Project 2025 is an initiative of more than 80 groups to provide hard-right personnel and policy papers for Trump should he win the 2024 presidential election.