Project 2025 Is Already Here

Core aspects of the far-right plan to overhaul U.S. government are already being put into place, through an anti-abortion influence campaign overseas.

Gillian Kane

A Project 2025 "Presidential Transition Project" setup at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland in February 2024. (Photo by Michael Brochstein/Sipa via AP Images)

When pundits, critics and supporters discuss Project 2025, the Heritage Foundation’s readiness work plan for a second Donald Trump presidency, it’s always in the future tense. At more than 900 pages, Project 2025’s playbook, Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise, is a door-stopper of policy recommendations that lays out detailed steps for decimating democracy in the first 180 days of the new administration. Some executive orders include eliminating the Department of Education (“a woke education cartel”), renaming the Department of Health and Human Services the Department of Life,” and anchoring these commitments in the promise to restore the family as the centerpiece of American life.” 

This Christian nationalist plan is no fever dream: even if Trump loses in November, many core aspects of Project 2025 will still be implemented. In fact, some of its recommendations are already underway. 

On February 9, Janet Museveni, Uganda’s first lady and Minister of Education and Sports, welcomed Valerie Huber — an abstinence-only evangelist and former high-level staffer in Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — to the grounds of the State House in Entebbe. Serving as the official residence of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, the State House was built during the British colonial era. Museveni demolished evidence of that colonial history when he rebuilt the house in the mid-2000s. But a new type of cultural colonialism is invading Uganda today — this time attached to Trump and wrapped up in the misleading promise of improving women’s health. 

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Huber came to Entebbe to celebrate the formalization of a contract between her new organization, the Institute for Women’s Health (IWH), and Uganda’s government. Sitting on a raised dais overlooking a crowd of senior representatives from eight African countries, including the first lady of Gabon, the partners committed to working together to implement Huber’s new project, Protego Health: The Women’s Optimal Health Framework.” After the ceremony, Janet Museveni took to social media to lavish praise on all the programs that Huber and IWH have planned for Uganda.”

While Huber claims Protego is meant to equip countries with interventions to support the health and well-being of women and their families,” its more important purpose is to fulfill the objectives of the Geneva Consensus Declaration (GCD). The GCD is unknown to most Americans, but it is an integral part of Project 2025. Launched with much fanfare in the waning days of the Trump administration, the GCD is an anti-abortion initiative led by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, implemented by Huber, and intended to stake Trump’s claim to global leadership against abortion and LGBTQ rights. 

Uganda's President's wife Janet Museveni on June 4, 2021.
Uganda's President's wife Janet Museveni on June 4, 2021. (Photo by BADRU KATUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)

The declaration was initially signed by 32 countries, most of which have dismal to alarming records on protecting women’s and LGBTQ people’s rights. After Joe Biden was elected, he withdrew the United States from the GCD in early 2021. Two years later, Brazil and Colombia followed suit. But the GCD also continues adding new member countries, and currently has 36 signatories, including the notable addition of Russia in 2021.

On paper, the GCD commits signatories to advancing four pillars”: improving women’s health, protecting human life, strengthening the family and protecting each country’s national sovereignty to support their own core values.” But family” in this context is understood to be in opposition to LGBTQ rights, and protecting human life” means denying all access to abortion.

In practical terms, the one-page document is little more than a Christian nationalist manifesto, with no enforcement power and no mechanisms for accountability. Protego, which is dedicated to implementing the GCD’s four pillars, now gives the manifesto legs and momentum.

The GCD gets several mentions in Project 2025, where it’s referenced as a guiding document for decision making on foreign policy and abortion. Project 2025’s overall plan to end abortion is uncompromising and its authors promise to push as hard as possible to protect the unborn in every jurisdiction,” including overseas. Protecting life,” the playbook insists, should be among the core objectives of the United States foreign assistance.” That means reinstating the Trump version of the expanded Global Gag Rule, Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” while exiting multilateral spaces like the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Even if Trump loses in November, many core aspects of Project 2025 will still be implemented. In fact, some of its recommendations are already underway.

In line with the MAGA movement’s anti-globalist ethos, Project 2025 will reconfigure and reduce overseas development aid, including reorienting the mandate of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) — America’s lead foreign aid division — to continue the Trump administration’s focus on ending the need for foreign aid,” prioritizing partnerships with faith-based organizations and removing references to gender,” abortion,” reproductive health” and sexual and reproductive rights” from all USAID websites. 

Given Huber’s previous high-level role in the Trump administration (by the time she left she was the HHS’s Special Representative for Global Women’s Health), and her authorship of the GCD (she calls herself the declaration’s architect”), it’s no surprise that her fingerprints are all over Project 2025

The Institute for Women’s Health is a member of Project 2025’s advisory board, and both Huber and IWH Chief Operating Officer Alma Golden are listed among its authors. Included under its chapter on decimating the State Department, Project 2025 instructs that, All U.S. foreign policy engagements” under the Obama and Biden administrations must be revised to align with the GCD, and that USAID should focus on implementing the declaration’s pillars in partnership with religious groups.

A press conference by the National Abstinence Foundation and Valerie Huber in 2007 in Boston.
A press conference by the National Abstinence Foundation and Valerie Huber in 2007 in Boston. (Photo by David Goldman/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

Project 2025 goes on to muse that while, Technically, the United States can prevent its international funding from going toward abortions,” the new administration will have greater leverage to prevent abortion access worldwide if they simply work through the GCD coalition’s dozens of member nations to shape the work of international agencies by functioning as a united front.”

This means that not only would the U.S. government not fund abortions through USAID or by funding UN agencies that support sexual and reproductive health and rights — which the United States already doesn’t do as a matter of policy—but also that U.S. foreign policy would be refocused to ensure that other countries likewise restrict their overseas aid to exclude funding for abortion.

Project 2025’s overall plan to end abortion is uncompromising and its authors promise to “push as hard as possible to protect the unborn in every jurisdiction,” including overseas.

It’s clear from Project 2025’s many mentions of the GCD that Huber and Golden are setting up their future scope of work in a new Trump administration, where Huber will likely receive another high-level appointment. But even if Trump loses, Huber has job security through Protego and the global partnerships she is currently cultivating with heads of state and other high-level government officials she met while working under Trump.

Protego was first piloted in Guatemala in June 2023, in collaboration with the outgoing government of ultra-right-wing President Alejandro Giammattei, a close ally of many U.S. Republicans. The same month marked Guatemala’s general elections, in which Giammattei and his allies allegedly attempted to disqualify their opposition from running. When these efforts failed, and the progressive candidate Bernardo Arévalo won the presidency in an August runoff, Giammattei’s administration tried to prevent him from being inaugurated. 

But these signs of corruption didn’t dissuade Huber from the partnership. In fact, recognizing that Arévalo might be less agreeable to Protego and the GCD, Huber’s IWH signed a multi-year memorandum of understanding with Giammattei’s government and several Guatemalan ministries, explaining that, this unique partnership will benefit Guatemalans for decades to come as its value transcends any Presidential Administration.”

This January, as Giammattei and his allies plotted to stop Arévalo’s inauguration, the outgoing president met with U.S. Sens. Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Steve Daines and Bill Hagerty in Washington, D.C. Giammattei also huddled with former Trump ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, who, as the Washington Post recently reported, is currently acting as Trump’s shadow secretary of state,” visiting with right-wing international leaders as his unofficial envoy.” The same month, Grenell also met with Giammattei and his supporters in Guatemala, where he defended their attempts to overturn the vote and stop Arévalo from being installed. 

Protego’s implementation in Guatemala forecasts how a future Trump administration will behave when it comes to keeping GCD’s signatories in line. On March 13, in clear violation of the GCD’s claimed insistence on protecting national sovereignty, three U.S. senators — Lindsey Graham, James Lankford and Steve Daines—sent a letter to Arévalo, strongly” urging him to remain in the GCD coalition in order to strengthen its stature as a key partner to the United States.” 

The senators’ letter to the new president (which also references IWH, Protego and Janet Museveni) was first reported by the right-wing Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam), which claimed the warning was a response to the Biden administration pressuring Arévalo to leave the GCD. The article’s author, C-Fam Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti, provides no evidence for this claim. 

Correnti — who like Huber is a contributing author to Project 2025 — concluded her article with a veiled threat: If Guatemala can withstand Biden pressure, a new U.S. pro-life administration next January will likely rejoin the GCD and prioritize grant-making to countries that have pledged commitments to women’s holistic health.” It’s not hard to read between the lines — if Arévalo rejects the GCD and Protego, there will be no more money for the country under a new Trump administration.

If Project 2025 is to be stopped—as it must be—it’s imperative that we understand how much of it is already unfolding, and already creating harm.

While Huber is working with right-wing U.S. senators to keep existing GCD members in check, she’s also cultivating new signatories. In a January podcast interview with Trump’s former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Huber said that 15 countries are currently considering scaling Protego,” that she hopes to also see the program implemented in U.S. states and she’s seeking to double the number of GCD signatories to 72 countries. 

Those plans follow a rapid tour Huber undertook of Washington embassies last summer to promote both Protego and the GCD, meeting with embassy staff from Burkina Faso, Zambia, South Sudan, Iraq, the Philippines, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Mali. In October, she took her pitch to Chad, meeting with the prime minister and other high-level dignitaries. 

Guatemala's new President Bernardo Arévalo in January 2024.
Guatemala's new President Bernardo Arévalo in January 2024. (Photo by Sandra Sebastian/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Huber is now turning her attention back to Latin America, and is currently targeting Peru. On March 11, two Peruvian parliamentarians, Milagros Aguayo and Alejandro Muñanteboth of whom attended Huber’s 2022 GCD anniversary celebration in Washington — organized a congressional meeting to consider endorsing the GCD. Huber joined by video chat as a featured speaker, alongside high-level staff from the ministries of justice, health and foreign relations, and said she was rooting for Peru” to become the declaration’s next member.

The Heritage Foundation recently sent out an eBook with the gleeful title, 5 Reasons Leftists HATE Project 2025.” But their framing is all wrong. Progressives don’t hate Project 2025. They are ambivalent, toggling between taking it seriously and assuming it could never come to pass. The truth is, Project 2025 has already started, and not just through Protego’s global march to infiltrate other countries’ governments.

It has also begun in ways that are deceptively small but in fact deeply significant in terms of culture change, such as Congress’ recent acquiescence to a Project 2025 demand to ban the LGBTQ Pride flag from flying over U.S. embassies.

If Project 2025 is to be stopped — as it must be — it’s imperative that we understand how much of it is already unfolding, and already creating harm.

There’s a line in Tolstoy’s War and Peace that’s useful for the moment we’re in: Nothing was prepared for the war that everyone expected.” When it comes to Project 2025, the future is now, and we’re nowhere close to prepared.

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Gillian Kane is Director of Global Policy and Research at Ipas.

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