Trump Campaign Officials Try to Play Down Contentious 2025 Plans

Two top officials on former President Donald J. Trump’s 2024 campaign on Monday sought to distance his campaign team from news reports about plans for what he would do if voters return him to the White House.

Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, who are effectively Mr. Trump’s campaign managers, issued a joint statement after a spate of articles, many in The New York Times, about plans for 2025 developed by the campaign itself, and trumpeted on the trail by Mr. Trump, as well as efforts by outside groups led by former senior Trump administration officials who remain in direct contact with him.

Ms. Wiles and Mr. LaCivita focused their frustration on outside groups, which they did not name, that have devoted considerable resources to preparing lists of personnel and developing policies to serve the next right-wing administration.

“The efforts by various nonprofit groups are certainly appreciated and can be enormously helpful. However, none of these groups or individuals speak for President Trump or his campaign,” they wrote, calling reports about their personnel and policy intentions “purely speculative and theoretical” and “merely suggestions.”

Mr. Trump’s team has sought to portray him as the most substantive candidate on policy in the Republican Party. But according to several people with knowledge of the internal discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, Mr. Trump’s campaign advisers have grown enraged at what they perceive alternately as credit-taking by the groups, and headlines that could be problematic for more moderate voters in a general election.

The statement noticeably stopped short of disavowing the groups and seemed merely intended to discourage them from speaking to the press.

One challenge for the Trump team is that the most incendiary rhetoric and proposals have come from Mr. Trump’s own mouth.

For instance, an article in The Times in June explored Mr. Trump’s plans to use the Justice Department to take vengeance on political adversaries by ordering investigations and prosecutions of them, eradicating the post-Watergate norm of Justice Department investigative independence from White House political control.

Mr. Trump himself said in June: “I will appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden, and the entire Biden crime family.”

The Times recently published an extensive article on Mr. Trump’s immigration plans for a second term. He has promised what he called “the largest domestic deportation operation in American history” and has used increasingly toxic language to describe immigrants, including saying that they are “poisoning the blood of our country.”

The Times article detailed plans for an immigration crackdown in part based on a lengthy interview with Stephen Miller, the architect of the Trump White House immigration policy. The Trump campaign, after being approached by Times reporters about Mr. Trump’s immigration agenda, had asked Mr. Miller to speak with them.

President Biden’s 2024 campaign pounced on the article concerning immigration — which described plans for mass detention camps, among other things — saying that Mr. Trump had “extreme, racist, cruel policies” that were “meant to stoke fear and divide us.”

Other Times articles have focused on plans being fleshed out by close allies of Mr. Trump who occupied senior roles in his White House and are likely to return to power if he is elected.

Those plans include efforts to increase White House control over the federal bureaucracy that are being developed, among others, by Russell T. Vought, who was Mr. Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget.

But as The Times noted, Mr. Vought’s plans dovetailed with statements Mr. Trump himself made in a video his campaign published on its website, including vowing to bring independent regulatory agencies “under presidential authority.”

The Times series has also examined plans by Trump allies to recruit more aggressive lawyers seen as likely to bless extreme policies. Mr. Trump fired the top lawyer at the Department of Homeland Security in 2019 after disputes over White House immigration policies and has blasted key lawyers from his administration who raised objections to his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss.

The statement from Ms. Wiles and Mr. LaCivita on Monday said that, “all 2024 campaign policy announcements will be made by President Trump or members of his campaign team. Policy recommendations from external allies are just that — recommendations.”

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