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Key Project 2025 figure Russ Vought was appointed to the RNC's platform committee. Mainstream coverage of the move was minimal.

Vought, a former Trump official who runs MAGA think tank the Center for Renewing America, has pushed Christian nationalism and wants to recruit an “army” of right-wing activists with a “biblical worldview” to serve in the next Republican administration

Russ Vought, a frequent guest on right-wing media shows and key figure in Project 2025, a broad effort to staff a future Republican administration, will have a top role in drafting the platform for the GOP's convention this July, virtually ensuring the document will be a wishlist of MAGA priorities.

The Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign made the joint announcement on May 15, highlighting Vought’s new role “as the committee's policy director” for the RNC’s 2024 Committee on the Platform and noting his previous tenure as director of the Office of Management and Budget under former President Donald Trump. In that position, Vought oversaw the administration’s attempts to remove supposed “critical race theory trainings” from federal programs and sought to coordinate the White House’s directives across the executive branch more broadly. 

As of May 21, the announcement has been met with total silence by mainstream cable outlets and corporate broadcast Sunday shows. Vought’s appointment hasn’t been mentioned at all on CNN or MSNBC, and wasn’t discussed on the May 19 editions of ABC’s This Week; CBS’ Face the Nation; or NBC’s Meet the Press. As a result, Vought’s radical vision for another Trump term remains hidden in plain sight, even as he positions himself for a possible return to government should his former boss win in November.

  • Vought is a hardline conservative who has promoted Christian nationalism and advocated for “ideological purity tests” for civil servants

  • After Trump’s loss in 2020, Vought founded the Center for Renewing America, where he has consistently pushed a Christian nationalist agenda. He has called for an “army” of right-wing activists with “biblical worldview” to serve in the next Republican administration, and wrote an op-ed for Newsweek in 2021 with the headline: “Is There Anything Actually Wrong With 'Christian Nationalism?' As Politico reported, “One ​​document drafted by CRA staff and fellows includes a list of top priorities for CRA in a second Trump term. ‘Christian nationalism’ is one of the bullet points.” 

    The Center for Renewing America has emerged as a key player in the MAGA-aligned think tank world. It’s one of the more than 100 conservative groups that make up Project 2025, an effort organized by The Heritage Foundation to provide staffing and policy proposals to a future GOP presidency. Vought plays a central role in the effort, including as the author of a chapter in Project 2025’s guiding document, Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise, in which he argued that the “enormous power” of the executive branch should be exclusively the purview of the president rather than dispersed within agencies and departments.

    Though that argument may sound anodyne, Vought’s vision has radical implications. First and foremost, Vought advocates for implementing a policy known as “Schedule F,” which would reclassify tens of thousands of federal employees as political appointees — thus stripping them of union protections. If Trump is reelected in November and chooses to go forward with Schedule F, he could fire career civil servants from agencies and departments en masse and replace them hardcore MAGA foot soldiers, potentially decimating the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, the Department of Education, and other frequent right-wing targets.

    “What we’re trying to do is identify the pockets of independence and seize them,” Vought has said, according to The New York Times.

    In a 2022 interview with right-wing activist Charlie Kirk, Vought and the host agreed that a future Republican president should deploy “ideological purity tests” against civil servants, with Vought calling for a purge of at least 10% of the federal workforce. In a 2023 appearance on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, guest hosted by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Vought endorsed readopting the Holman Rule, which would allow members of Congress to target existing funding for agencies or individual federal employees. 

    “The Holman Rule makes sure that those career bureaucrats are no longer anonymous, and that they are put in the crosshairs to the same extent — in the arena — that you are. That I am,” Vought told Gaetz, who is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

  • Vought has sowed chaos in the GOP-led House of Representative and targeted anti-poverty programs

  • In service of his uncompromising, hardline stances, Vought has championed the right-most flank of the Republican House Caucus in its fights against former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and his successor, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). 

    In a November 2022 appearance on Bannon’s War Room, Vought lobbied against McCarthy even before he got the job, arguing that “we need a war-time speaker that can seize confrontation and risk by the throat in order to go against their adversaries and be able to deal with the woke and weaponized government that we are all suffering from.” He later accused McCarthy of “running this House in concert with the Democrats,” during another edition of Bannon’s show. As Johnson attempted to pass a bill that would provide military aid to Ukraine, Vought returned to Bannon’s podcast and referred to Johnson as a “neocon,” who “rejects the America first perspective.”

    Vought and CRA have an entire wishlist of radical domestic policies. According to The Washington Post, Vought advocates for trillions of dollars of reductions to “anti-poverty programs such as housing, health care and food assistance,” including massive cuts to Medicaid and potentially slashing Social Security and Medicare benefits in the future. Jeffrey Clark, a senior fellow at CRA and a participant in Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election, has reportedly advocated for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to deploy the military against civilian protests if he wins in November.

    Mainstream outlets do the public a disservice by failing to report Vought’s newly announced role is drafting the GOP’s 2024 platform for a potential second Trump administration.

  • Methodology

    Media Matters searched transcripts in the Snapstream video database for all original programming on CNN and MSNBC as well as all original episodes of ABC’s This Week; CBS’ Face the Nation; and NBC’s Meet the Press for any of the terms “Vought” (including misspellings), “Center for Renewing America,” “OMB,” or “Office of Management and Budget” within close proximity of any of the terms “RNC,” “Platform,” “Republican National Committee,” or “Trump,” from May 15, 2024, when the Republican National Committee announced the appointment of Russ Vought to the Committee on the Platform, through May 20, 2024. 

    We timed segments, which we defined as instances when Russ Vought's appointment to the RNC's Committee on the Platform was the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of the appointment. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed the appointment with one another.

    We also timed mentions, which we defined as, instances when a single speaker in a segment on another topic mentioned Russ Vought's appointment without another speaker in the segment engaging with the comment, and teasers, which we defined as instances when the anchor or host promoted a segment about the appointment scheduled to air later in the broadcast.

    We rounded all times to the nearest minute.