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Trump’s Transition Circus Heads to Palm Beach

donald trump susie wiles
Susie Wiles has already proven herself adept at the delicate task of professionalizing the Trump operation without overstepping or upsetting the principal. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Tina Nguyen
April 3, 2024

The polling and prediction markets may show Joe Biden and Donald Trump in a statistical dead heat, but fortune favors the drape-measurers, and for Trump allies and hangers-on eying roles in a putative Trump II administration, the jockeying has begun. As I reported in October, there are currently two dueling conservative groups working to staff the next Trump regime: Project 2025, spearheaded by the storied Heritage Foundation, with the participation of every right-wing organization under the sun (the Tea Party Patriots, Stephen Miller’s legal firm, Moms for Liberty, etcetera); and the America First Policy Institute’s Transition Project, featuring a who’s who of Trump has-beens (Kellyanne Conway, Hogan Gidley, Larry Kudlow, Pam Bondi, etcetera etcetera). Both organizations, each obviously headquartered in Washington, D.C., are focused on vetting the next generation of Trump-aligned foot soldiers to parachute into federal agencies on Day One.

But the real action of staffing a Trump White House will be occurring closer to Trump himself. Presidential candidates typically establish transition teams in Washington, where they are separate from the campaign, and where staffers can meet and evaluate the thousands of potential employees required to run the federal government. Trump, however, plans to establish his transition directly from the comfort of Mar-a-Lago, according to three people in the know. Also unlike previous transition teams, I’m told, staffers on the committee will have direct access to Trump, too. As a result, whomever ultimately chairs the group is more likely to be a gatekeeper than a true decision-maker—though gatekeeping is a tall order given the fates of his four White House chiefs of staff. “They’ve learned nothing,” sighed a former Trump administration official, predicting more 2016-style mayhem.