IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
Image: Donald Trump waves as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House.
Al Drago / Getty Images

Why in the world would Team Trump need a 'policy institute'?

The "America First Policy Institute" may soon have tens of millions of dollars, but I haven't the foggiest idea what its staffers will do all day.


As Donald Trump settles into his role as a semi-retired, failed former president, he and his team continue to construct a growing political machine. For example, Trump already has a leadership PAC, ironically called "Save America," which is raising a ton of largely regulated money for the Republican. He also has Mar-a-Lago, which for many in the party, has become the center of the GOP's world.

Stephen Miller, meanwhile, has apparently created a new legal operation called "America First Legal," and Axios reported yesterday that several veterans of Team Trump are moving forward with plans to create something resembling a D.C. think tank.

A constellation of Trump administration stars today will launch the America First Policy Institute, a 35-person nonprofit group with a first-year budget of $20 million and the mission of perpetuating former President Trump's populist policies.... Two top Trump alumni tell me AFPI is by far the largest pro-Trump outside group, besides Trump's own Florida-based machine. In the coming months, the group plans to take a large office space near the U.S. Capitol as a symbol that it'll fight to be a muscular, well-heeled center of the future of conservatism.

The operation will reportedly be led by Brooke Rollins, who led the Domestic Policy Council in Trump's White House, though the former president is also directly involved: Axios' report added that Rollins met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago last week to discuss the group's future.

The America First Policy Institute's roster is filled with all sorts of familiar names: Linda McMahon, who led Trump's Small Business Administration, will serve as chair, working alongside Larry Kudlow, who'll serve the vice chair.

Meanwhile, John Ratcliffe, the troubled former DNI, will help steer the organization's focus on national security; Pam Bondi, the controversial former Florida attorney general, will focus on legal and justice issues; and Paula White-Cain, a controversial televangelist, will reportedly head the institute's Center for American Values.

Part of the problem with this is the question of whether any of these Republican voices are qualified to help guide "the future of conservatism," but I'm also stuck on a more foundational question:

Why in the world would veterans of Team Trump need a "policy institute"? The group's mission is to perpetuate the former president "policies," which sounds vaguely interesting until one realizes that the former president doesn't really have any policies.

Whenever Trump would try to come up with something resembling a governing agenda, it quickly became obvious that he had poorly thought-out whims, which contradicted the agenda of those around him, which were impractical and borderline illegal and which he'd routinely abandon based on random segments he saw on Fox News.

With this in mind, the America First Policy Institute may soon have tens of millions of dollars, but I haven't the foggiest idea what its staffers will do all day.