Donald Trump on Heritage’s Kevin Roberts, who oversees Project 2025: “He’s going to be so incredible”

Trump gushed over Heritage and Roberts in a 2022 speech. Trump now claims not to know who is behind Project 2025, which is led by Roberts and Heritage.

Donald Trump is trying to distance himself from Project 2025, the radical takeover of government created as a blueprint for the next Republican presidential administration, now that it’s become a toxic election issue. But in addition to the numerous Project 2025 authors and leaders who previously served in Trump’s administration, the former president has offered gushing praise for Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation, the right-wing think tank leading that effort.

Trump gave the keynote address at the Heritage Foundation’s annual leadership conference on April 21, 2022, just a few months after Roberts took the reins of the organization. 

“He’s going to be so incredible,” Trump said of Roberts. “I know that for a fact, because I know what he did and where he came from, and he’s going to be outstanding, and congratulations to his very exciting new role and a very important role.”

Video file

Citation From an April 21, 2022, speech by Donald Trump  

Trump, who had just been introduced by Roberts, went on to praise Heritage board co-Chair Barb Van Andel-Gaby as well as several Heritage officials who had advised his campaign or served in his administration. 

The former president then touted Heritage itself, saying, “For nearly 50 years, this legendary institution, which is what it is, has been at the forefront of the conservative movement, helping lead the fight to defend our cherished American history, culture, and traditions.”

Roberts drew press scrutiny last week for stating on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s War Room show that “we are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.” He reportedly doubled down on those comments in a Monday speech at the National Conservatism Conference.

Almost exactly one year after Trump’s Heritage keynote, The New York Times broke the news that Heritage was leading the “so-called Project 2025,” an effort to staff the next Republican presidential administration which the paper described as “part of a $22 million presidential transition operation at a scale never attempted before in conservative politics.” 

The Times further reported in its April 20, 2023, article that according to Roberts, “Heritage and its project partners have already briefed Mr. Trump” on the plan.

The next day, Heritage announced that Project 2025 had published Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise, a nearly 900-page book laying out the right’s sprawling, extreme agenda-in-waiting. The framework would roll back civil rights enforcement, dramatically curtail access to abortion, shred environmental protections, and much more.

Trump has tried to distance himself from Project 2025 over the past week as it gained increased public interest and notoriety. 

“I know nothing about Project 2025,” he wrote Friday on Truth Social. “I have no idea who is behind it.”

Truth Social post

But Trump is lying. 

Popular Information’s Judd Legum reported that Project 2025’s leaders and writers are deeply entwined with Trump’s circle. “All told, of the 38 people responsible for writing and editing Project 2025, 31 were appointed or nominated to positions in the Trump administration and transition,” he wrote. “In other words, while Trump claims he has ‘nothing to do’ with the people who created Project 2025, over 81% had formal roles in his first administration.”

At least one of those authors also has a formal role helping to put together the GOP’s 2024 platform. Russ Vought, who served as Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget and authored a chapter of the Project 2025 book, is now the policy director for the Republican National Committee’s 2024 Committee on the Platform.

Another key figure, Project 2025 senior adviser John McEntee, previously served as director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office in the Trump administration — and before that, as Trump’s “longtime personal aide.” McEntee, who now works for Heritage on the “Presidential Personnel Database,” explained in April that Project 2025 “is in charge of staffing the next administration should Trump win.”