A cadre of Trump-era officials Tuesday launched a new nonprofit group called the America First Policy Institute, with a mission of boosting a populist agenda similar to that of former President Trump.
The 35-person group has a $20 million first-year budget and a number of prominent Trump alumni at the helm. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner will serve as informal advisers.
Brooke Rollins, Trump’s head of the Domestic Policy Council, will be CEO and president, and Linda McMahon, former head of the Small Business Administration and a member of the former president’s cabinet, will chair the board. The vice-chair is Larry Kudlow, Trump’s former White House economic adviser. Kudlow hosts a show on Fox Business.
Rollins, McMahon and Kudlow first discussed forming the nonprofit in December. Rollins met with Trump last week at Mar-a-Lago to detail the group’s plans, which he was “delighted” to hear.
The group plans to grow its budget to $40 million by next year. A spokesperson for AFPI didn’t disclose where the $20 million funding had come from but attributed the success of early donations to its leadership.
AFPI includes 20 different policy focuses, many run by Trump alumni. The Center for Energy Independence will be chaired by former Energy Secretary Rick Perry and the National Security will be co-chaired by former acting Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who served as national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence.
Former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi will chair the Center for Law and Justice. Bondi also served as a defense attorney for Trump during his first impeachment trial.
AFPI is currently based in Arlington, Virginia but plans to move to Washington, D.C. to get closer to the action.
“We know we have to earn our credibility and trust through results. In Washington, D.C., where results are few and credibility is thin, that may seem like scaling an impossible summit,” Rollins told Fox News. “But that’s also our advantage: like the Trump Presidency that brought us together, we were never of Washington, D.C. We are merely in it — and in multiple state capitals, as I write — and so we aren’t beholden to its ways.”
The group plans to have offices in Fort Worth, Texas, Miami and New York.
“The patriots assembling the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) are some of the greatest champions for freedom, free enterprise, national greatness, and the primacy of American workers, families, and communities, that our Nation has ever seen,” Trump said in a statement. “Linda McMahon, Brooke Rollins, Larry Kudlow, Rick Perry, General Kellogg, and the rest of the freedom warriors at AFPI have my full support as they work not only to preserve the historic accomplishments of my Administration, but also to propel the America First Agenda into the future. I look forward to working with them to save America.”
In announcing the launch on his Fox Business show, Kudlow called the group “bipartisan.”
“It is bipartisan, which means that we will put forward every policy we know puts America first and Americans first,” Rollins agreed.
Unlike other free market-focused groups with Republican backing, the conservative group calls for “fair trade” rather than “free trade.”
“For years, the D.C. and global corporate elites, in the name of free trade orthodoxy, allowed markets and market efficiencies to be an overwhelming influence on policy decisions,” the group writes on its website. “Nowhere was that more evident than in the realm of international trade relations, where the United States repeatedly entered into deals that protected and promoted the interests of foreign workers, foreign agriculture, and foreign businesses — but not our own.”
On matters of foreign policy, the group will take a hardline stance against China. “For decades, D.C. insiders and Wall Street elites perpetuated the lie that American engagement with Communist China would cause that nation to open, to liberalize, and to reform,” AFPI’s website reads.
The group also looks to promulgate classic American values in education and elsewhere “not as a look back at the past, but as the foundation of our future.”
AFPI plans to develop policy for stricter border restrictions. “From efforts to dissuade social integration of immigrants, to narratives proclaiming American iniquity, to abuse of our asylum system, we are witnessing an unprecedented assault on what has made our Nation great. The America First Policy Institute (AFPI) conducts research and develops policies to secure our borders, modernize our outdated ports of entry, and advance merit-based policies,” the website reads.