Republicans line up for a chance in a second Trump White House

Former President Trump left the White House in 2021 under the cloud of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, rendering him politically toxic after he refused to accept his election loss.

His first administration was marked by rapid turnover — from the public firing of the FBI director to a revolving door of chiefs of staff and press secretaries — as well as other senior officials who have now turned critical of their former boss, deeming him a threat to the country. 

Yet there is no shortage of Republican officials who are ready and willing to take on jobs in a second Trump administration.

Conservative groups are working well before this November’s election to identify potential staff. Some former Trump Cabinet officials have endorsed him in recent days, and a few of those who challenged Trump for the 2024 nomination appear to be positioning themselves for a spot in the executive branch.

“For every one former Trump official or staffer that now says negative things, you have hundreds that worked for him, that worked in the White House and in the administration that would love the opportunity to go back and work for him again, and would do so in a heartbeat,” said Brooke Rollins, head of the America First Policy Institute and Trump’s former Domestic Policy Council director.

The chatter around who Trump might choose as a running mate has encapsulated the way in which Republicans are publicly embracing the idea of joining a second Trump administration.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said last month on “Meet the Press” that she would be “honored to serve in any capacity in a Trump administration” when asked about her potential for joining him on the ticket.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) have either not ruled out the idea of being Trump’s running mate or said they would welcome the opportunity.

Some of Trump’s former primary rivals who have endorsed him have also seemingly positioned themselves to serve in his administration in some capacity, such as Vivek Ramaswamy, who last month avoided answering whether he would want a job in a Trump administration. 

Trump himself told supporters that North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) would have an “important role” in his next administration. Burgum is not running for reelection, seemingly freeing him up for such a role.

Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin endorsed Trump earlier this month, as did former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson endorsed Trump last October.

Even former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who lost in the gavel in part because of a group of Trump allies, said last December he would consider serving in Trump’s Cabinet.

The Heritage Foundation has spent the last two years building up a portfolio of potential hires for the next Republican administration through its Project 2025 initiative. The effort is being led by Paul Dans and Spencer Chretien, with the goal of having policy recommendations and personnel to implement those recommendations as soon as the next GOP president takes office.

Officials with Project 2025 did not respond to requests for comment about the response they’ve received from potential applicants.

In an interview on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Trump indicated he would put “some” of his former White House officials into his Cabinet in a second administration.

“I mean, if somebody did a good job, I would do that, yes,” Trump said, arguing he would be better equipped to hire staff in his second go-round.

There is a cavalcade of former Trump officials, however, who would opt not to be part of a potential second term. 

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who broke with Trump over Jan. 6, has yet to endorse any candidate after suspending his own campaign. 

Trump has openly feuded with his former attorney general, Bill Barr. Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper called Trump a “threat to democracy,” and former national security adviser John Bolton has warned a second Trump term would be more dangerous than the first.

Rollins, who formed the America First Policy Institute as a way to advance the agenda Trump championed during his first term, said in an interview the former president does not get enough credit as a boss or for hiring and supporting women in various senior staff roles during his first term.

While Rollins stressed the policy institute is not involved in conversations about personnel for a second Trump administration, she suggested there are more conservatives today who would be interested in working for Trump than there were when he launched his first presidential campaign in 2015.

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Some officials have suggested there will be an even greater willingness among lawmakers and others to put their name forward if he continues to lead President Biden in the polls.

Sean Spicer, a former Trump press secretary, compared it to Republican donors who said they wouldn’t back the former president or were looking for an alternative, only to fall in line as Trump dominated the primary.

“Now with the polls being what they are, people are looking at this much more differently, because the reality of it is that it’s very possible,” Spicer said of a potential second Trump term.

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