Project 2025 partner blog: If Trump wins, “unpleasant things will have to be done to hold people to account”

An article at The Claremont Institute echoes Trump's repeated promises of “retribution” against his enemies if he wins in November

A media outlet from conservative think tank the Claremont Institute published a blog on June 21 arguing that if former President Donald Trump wins reelection in November, “unpleasant things will have to be done to hold people to account.” 

The article didn’t specify its exact targets — beyond saying that they are the “people who attacked our constitutional republic by refusing to recognize limits on their exercise of power over us” — or the consequences they could face. But the author mentions Attorney General Merrick Garland and special counsel Jack Smith, as well as prosecutors and judges involved in cases investigating Trump, implying that they could all face retaliation under a second Trump term.

The article — published at The American Mind, one of several publications associated with the Claremont Institute — echoed Trump’s own promises of revenge. “I am your retribution,” Trump told the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March 2023, repeating the phrase again later that month.

If Trump is to see his plans through, Claremont will play a major role as one of more than 100 organizations on the advisory board of Project 2025 — a radical right-wing effort organized by The Heritage Foundation to remake the federal government by providing staffing and policy to a second Trump administration.

The Claremont blog is just the latest salvo in pursuit of a key Project 2025 goal: implementing Schedule F, a scheme to remove job protections from tens of thousands of federal workers by reclassifying career staffers as political appointees. That move would allow a Trump administration to purge civil servants from federal agencies and replace them with MAGA activists. 

Although the blog’s author doesn’t mention Schedule F explicitly, he makes sweeping claims about “the regime” — a catch-all for any and all anti-Trump forces, with a specific focus on the federal government. “The regime uses its lawless power routinely,” the blog argues in one instance. In another: “The regime has deformed our constitutional order almost beyond recognition.” In yet another case: “If Trump wins, we should expect that some of the worst perpetrators of the regime’s lawlessness will be held to account.” Taken as a whole, they seem to constitute a clear call to gut the federal workforce of employees perceived to be insufficiently dedicated to Trumpism.   

Since Trump’s initial “retribution” remarks, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and others in MAGA media have amplified and intensified his threats. 

  • Last August, Fox News host Jesse Watters celebrated Trump's calls for revenge by telling his viewers: “You better believe it’s open season.”
  • During a December interview with MAGA pundit Kash Patel, Bannon said of Trump’s retribution plans: “This is just not rhetoric. We're absolutely dead serious.”
  • During an April appearance on Bannon’s show, Article III Project founder Mike Davis threatened to “rain hell on these Biden Democrats” and warned them to “lawyer up”
  • In May, Bannon described Trump’s political opponents as “enemies and traitors to this country” and said: “The criminals and traitors around Biden, you should be very worried.” 
  • Also in May, Bannon said that a Trump Department of Justice would bring charges against lawyers who prosecuted him after his first term.
  • On June 17, Bannon touted Project 2025 and pledged: “We are also going to have teams” that can “deconstruct the administrative state” and “go after the criminals and the traitors in the deep state.”
  • During a June interview with The Heritage Foundation’s Paul Dans, who directs Project 2025, Bannon suggested purging 8 million federal contractors.

The Claremont Institute closely tied itself to the first Trump campaign and administration, providing would-be intellectual scaffolding to the president’s chaotic time in the White House. Claremont is also home to Trump coup plotter John Eastman, who pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results and was later included as an unindicted co-conspirator in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s attempts to stay in power.

Beyond Eastman, Claremont has been a headquarters for a host of right-wing extremists. In 2019, Claremont awarded a fellowship to Pizzagate conspiracy theory peddler and neo-Nazi collaborator Jack Posobiec. Other notable fellowship recipients include right-wing activist Charlie Kirk, whose Turning Point USA is a Project 2025 partner with its own extensive ties to extremists; and Pedro Gonzales, who was later exposed for sending antisemitic, racist, and anti-LGBTQ texts in a right-wing group chat.