Divide and conquer: Former Trump aides hope new rivalry helps sustain MAGA movement

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The growing number of former Trump administration officials launching fledgling political groups naturally raises one key question: Can the MAGA movement avoid a post-Trump political fracture?

In the months following the 45th president’s Washington exit, top ex-Trump aides, including Domestic Policy Council Director Brooke Rollins and former senior White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, have opened competing activism outfits.

Rollins, who currently serves as the CEO and president of the nonprofit organization America First Policy Institute, launched the Constitutional Litigation Partnership just weeks after Miller announced the formation of America First Legal. Both organizations were designed with the explicit goal of fighting federal overreach in the judicial system, but Miller’s is open about its attempts to thwart President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, while Rollins’s claims to be nonpartisan.

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Four former senior Trump administration officials expressed concerns to the Washington Examiner that Rollins is simply “grifting” off of former President Donald Trump’s name and political legacy.

Two suggested that launching a think tank, in general, is the antithesis of Trump’s “drain the swamp” campaign pledge.

A third outright accused Rollins of being one of the “least MAGA” officials to work in the White House, while a fourth joked that these new outfits are landing places for former administration officials who weren’t able to find post-Trump work anywhere else.

Rollins laughed off the aforementioned criticisms in a statement.

“The beauty of the ‘America First’ movement is that it isn’t a complex web of policy positions that everyone has to memorize in order to pass some imaginary litmus test,” she wrote. “Does x, y, or z policy put the best interests of the American people first? If the answer is yes, then welcome to the tent.”

She claimed that her organization is looking to ignore “where you’re from or who you’ve worked for in the past” and is instead focusing on “what you are doing now to help mold our country’s future.”

“AFPI has opened its doors to everyone who wants to advance the America First agenda,” Rollins continued. “The difference between our approach and the way things have been done for decades is that we’re willing to have the tough conversations with those who disagree with us. This institute is a long-term play, and will exist in perpetuity as a monument to America First policies.”

Similarly, two Republican strategists familiar with the former president’s thinking questioned how one group could be “more MAGA” than the other, given the fact that Trump has already endorsed both efforts.

A third Republican strategist applauded Miller and Rollins for launching similar legal organizations and called it “law firm 101.”

“I think there’s a good reason for that,” a second Republican strategist said of the dueling legal centers. “Their clients would probably always be on the same side of the issue, but specific lawyers might have conflicts of interest based on prior work, so having more than one legal group ready to take on cases is just good practice.”

Ultimately, it would appear there’s plenty of food to feed the entire table. Politico reported Thursday that Trump and his allies have raised more than $90 million since he left office.

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It should be noted that it’s not just former White House aides wrapping themselves in the MAGA flag to buttress their ambitions.

A slew of Trump’s Cabinet-level officials and multiple sitting politicians, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have made their own White House aspirations abundantly clear.

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