A liberal group says former President Donald Trump has promised more than two dozen “insane” actions if he reclaims the White House, including rounding up all homeless people, pardoning Jan. 6 defendants and ending the war in Ukraine within 24 hours.
MeidasTouch Network, a liberal news website, shared an Oct. 21 Instagram reel that highlights its earlier article headlined, “27 Insane Things Trump Said He Will Do in a 2nd Term.” The article was written by MeidasTouch’s editor-in-chief, Ron Filipkowski, a Florida-based former prosecutor and former Republican whose account on X has more than 825,000 followers.
MeidasTouch compiled the promises largely from 2023 video clips, including Trump campaign’s “Agenda 47” — a series of short clips that detail initiatives Trump plans to implement if he wins the presidency in 2024.
Many of Trump’s promises would face practical or legal challenges.
We analyzed the 27 items and found that Trump did say something close to what the article claimed, although in some cases MeidasTouch Network ignored nuances in Trump’s framing.
Former President Donald Trump smiles before his speech at the California Republican Party Convention Friday, Sept. 29, 2023, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP)
1. “Will arrest all homeless people across the country for ‘urban camping,’ round them up and then ‘relocate them’ to ‘tent cities’ where they can be ‘rehabilitated.’”
This is close to what Trump said, but it ignores some of his framing.
Trump said, “We’ll ban urban camping wherever possible.” But he also said that relocation and rehabilitation would be optional for the people arrested. They would “be given the option to receive treatment and services if they’re willing to be rehabilitated,” he said. Trump promised that the rehabilitation would come with the assistance of “doctors, psychiatrists, social workers and drug rehab specialists.”
2. “Require every federal employee to take a new patriotism exam and they will be terminated if they refuse to take them or fail to pass.”
This is essentially what Trump said.
In a video responding to federal investigations over retaining documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate and trying to overturn the 2020 election, Trump said, “I will require every federal employee to pass a new civil service test demonstrating an understanding of our constitutional-limited government. This will include command of due process rights, equal protection, free speech, religious liberty, federalism, the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure – I know all about that at Mar-a-Lago, don’t I — and all other constitutional limits on federal power.”
He didn’t say he would “terminate” or “fire” employees who fail the test or refuse to take it, but he said passing the test would be a requirement, so that would not be much of a leap.
3. “Will build 10 new Trump ‘freedom cities’ around the country, which will be free of any government regulations.”
MeidasTouch’s description is more expansive than Trump’s proposal. Trump proposed lifting regulations — presumably federal ones, which are the only ones he as president would have influence over — that pertain to manufacturing.
Trump said, “We will create an ultra-streamlined federal regulatory framework, specifically for ‘freedom cities,’ allowing them to be true frontiers for the return of U.S. manufacturing, the rebirth of economic opportunity, and safe and affordable living.”
Regardless, George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin said, such cities “cannot be completely free of state regulation, as Congress cannot override all state regulations of every kind.”
4. “He will appoint federal judges in the mold of Clarence Thomas.”
This closely matches what Trump said in a video, although he said “adopt” rather than “appoint”: “My administration will again adopt rock-solid constitutional conservatives to the federal bench, justices and judges, but in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas.” Trump made similar comments about appointing judges aligned with Scalia and Thomas when he was in office.
5. “He will have (the Justice Department) subpoena local DAs and their staff and remove them from office if he determines that they are failing to do their job to his satisfaction.”
This is close to what Trump said, except that he didn’t target all district attorneys.
In a campaign video titled “Firing the Radical Marxist Prosecutors Destroying America,” Trump vowed to investigate what he called “Soros prosecutors” — a reference to district attorneys who benefited from campaign backing or funding linked to liberal billionaire George Soros. The video was published after Trump was indicted in a case involving hush money paid to adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels. Trump has accused the prosecutor in that case, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, of being tied to Soros. The Color of Change PAC, a racial justice group, received money from Soros, and the PAC supported Bragg.
In the video, Trump promised to overhaul the Justice Department and FBI, and to “launch sweeping civil rights investigations into Marxist local District Attorneys,” specifically citing those in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
6. He will “fire staff and disband college accreditation boards since they ‘have become dominated by marxist maniacs and lunatics.’”
This reflects what Trump said. In a video that outlined his higher education policy goals, Trump promised to “reclaim” colleges and universities from the “radical left” by replacing college accreditation boards and imposing new standards.
These new standards, Trump said, would include “defending the American tradition and Western civilization”; removing diversity, equity and inclusion staff; protecting free speech; and requiring that colleges offer “accelerated and low-cost degrees.” Trump said he would also implement college entrance and exit exams “to prove that students are actually learning.”
Accreditors and other experts told Inside Higher Ed that Trump’s plan would interfere with the federal accountability system and long-standing principles in higher education and, since it would require congressional backing, stands little chance of being carried out.
7. “He will seize university endowments and also fine them millions of dollars if he determines the schools are Marxist and/or discriminating against white people.”
In the same announcement, which he titled “Protecting Students from the Radical Left and Marxist Maniacs Infecting Educational Institutions,” Trump vowed to direct the Justice Department to pursue federal civil rights cases against schools “that continue to engage in racial discrimination” and said he would advance a measure to fine schools that continue these policies up to the entire amount of their endowment.
University endowments are funds that colleges and universities receive from organizational and individual donors. Any attempt by the government to expropriate private funds would almost certainly tee up a major fight in court.
Outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a farewell tribute at Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall in Fort Myer, Va., on Sept. 29, 2023. (AP)
8. He would have the Justice Department “investigate and prosecute General Milley for treason.”
Trump didn’t use the word “treason” to refer to former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mark Milley in a Truth Social post, but he implied it.
Trump criticized Milley for calling his Chinese counterpart to reassure China after the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, saying it was “an act so egregious that, in times gone by, the punishment would have been DEATH.” The comment was widely seen as an accusation of treason because it is a crime eligible for the death penalty.
However, treason is only a crime during wartime. “It’s pretty obvious Milley has not committed treason, and any such prosecution would be dismissed by a court, possibly even with sanctions” against the attorneys pursuing it, George Mason’s Somin said.
9. “He will end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours by threatening to withhold US aid to Ukraine if Zelensky doesn’t agree to a deal with Russia.”
“If I were president, and I say this, I will end that war in one day, it will take 24 hours,” Trump said in an interview with GBNews, the clip cited by MeidasTouch. “I know Zelensky well, I know Putin well.”
Trump added, “a lot of it has to do with the money. I would get that deal done within 24 hours.”
In an interview on Fox News, Trump more clearly hinted that part of his strategy would involve what the U.S. gives to Ukraine. Host Maria Bartiromo asked Trump, “You said you could end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours. How would you do that?”
“I would tell Zelenskyy, ‘No more,’” Trump replied. “‘You got to make a deal.’ I would tell Putin, ‘If you don’t make a deal, we’re going to give him a lot. We’re going to [give Ukraine] more than they ever got if we have to.’ I will have the deal done in one day. One day.”
10. “Require that schools hold elections each year where principals will be elected by parents who will choose whoever they want to run the school each year.
This is close to what Trump said.
In a speech at an annual summit for Moms for Liberty — a conservative parents-rights group — Trump said he would fight for the “direct election” of school principals by parents. He didn’t say these elections would occur each year, and said parents could do this if they aren’t satisfied with their children’s current principal.
“If you have a bad principal who is not getting the job done, the parent will, under the Trump administration, be allowed to vote to fire that principal to select someone who will do a great job,” he said.
Typically, public school principals are appointed by superintendents and approved by local school boards or selected by charter school boards. Because K-12 education is largely directed at the state and local level, it’s unclear how the federal government would enact this idea, and whether it could withstand legal scrutiny.
11. He proposed that “any person convicted of selling drugs will get the death penalty.”
That’s essentially what Trump said.
“We’re going to ask that everyone who sells drugs, gets caught selling drugs, to receive the death penalty for their heinous acts,” Trump said.
This would be a huge expansion of crimes eligible for capital punishment. Currently, only such crimes as murder, treason, genocide, or the killing or kidnapping of a member of Congress, the President, or a Supreme Court justice would qualify based on Supreme Court precedent.
In 2019, some 210,000 people were arrested for the sale or manufacture of drugs, according to Pew Research Center data. That compares to 34 state and federal death penalty convictions handed down that year, a number that has since fallen to 21 in 2022.
Another practical concern: Large, interstate operations can be prosecuted federally, but states and localities handle most drug cases. This would put the vast majority of drug cases beyond the purview of a Trump administration.
Jericho Steve, of Pennsylvania, a supporter of the January 6th defendants and former President Donald Trump, protests outside federal court on Aug. 30, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (AP)
12. “Pardon convicted J6 inmates convicted of seditious conspiracy and assaulting police officers, with an apology from the U.S. government.”
Trump has repeatedly said he would pardon defendants charged with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
In September 2022, two months before he announced his campaign, Trump told conservative radio show host Wendy Bell that he had met with some of the Jan. 6 defendants. “I will look very very favorably about full pardons” if he wins the campaign, Trump said. He added, “I mean full pardons, with an apology to many.” Trump didn’t single out specific charges he would pardon.
This is one promise he could carry out: If Trump becomes president, he would have the power to pardon. However, those would be federal pardons, meaning some defendants might still be liable for state charges.
13. Have the Justice Department “investigate Comcast, NBC and MSNBC for treason and remove them from the public airwaves.”
Trump did call for investigating those outlets, but his comments about any specific punishment were vague.
In a Truth Social post, Trump wrote “Comcast, with its one-side and vicious coverage by NBC NEWS, and in particular MSNBC, often and correctly referred to as MSDNC (Democrat National Committee!), should be investigated for its ‘Country Threatening Treason.’ Their endless coverage of the now fully debunked SCAM known as Russia, Russia, Russia, and much else, is one big Campaign Contribution to the Radical Left Democrat Party. I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I WIN the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events.”
Trump did not clearly state that he would try to deplatform the outlets, but he appeared to challenge their existence, stating: “Why should NBC, or any other of the corrupt & dishonest media companies, be entitled to use the very valuable Airwaves of the USA, FREE? They are a true threat to Democracy and are, in fact, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”
14. “Pardoned felon Michael Flynn will be appointed to a top position in his Administration.”
This is not as clear as MeidasTouch suggested in the clip it cited from a January 2022 Republican Party event in Lee County, Florida. Trump introduced Flynn and said, “Stay in good health, Michael. Get ready. Only 18 more months!”
In July 2020, Trump said he would welcome Flynn back to the White House.
Flynn was appointed as Trump’s first national security adviser but left after less than a month in February 2017. Flynn resigned from his position, saying he’d given “incomplete information” to White House officials about contacts he’d had with senior Russian officials weeks before Trump took office that may have addressed lifting sanctions on Russia that had been imposed by then-President Barack Obama.
15. “He will end all DEI programs in government agencies by executive order, including the military.”
This is something Trump promised in March.
Trump railed against “equity” initiatives under the Biden administration and said he would instruct the Justice Department to investigate organizations that practice and carry out such efforts.
This is something Trump tried to do in his first term as president when he issued a September 2020 executive order restricting the federal government and its contractors from offering diversity training that he labeled “divisive” and “un-American.” A federal judge blocked the order, and then Biden reversed it in 2021. Trump pledges to reinstate it.
Activists march past the White House to protest the Trump administration’s approach to illegal border crossings and separation of children from immigrant parents on June 20, 2018. (AP)
16. “He will bring back the architect of the child separation policy at the border” and “Tom Homan (will) run ICE.”
Tom Homan was a former police officer who served as Trump’s acting director of ICE starting in January 2017 and part of 2018. He oversaw the early stages of the child separation policy for migrants, which became controversial and was later reversed by Trump.
Homan said Trump will bring him back, but we did not find that Trump said that in the video Meidas cited.
Homan said at an event in 2022 that Trump told him, “You and I will fix this in 2024.” Homan said, “I will make you this promise if he comes back, I come back and it’s not going to be nice.” He added, I shook his hand at Mar-a-Lago two weeks ago. If he comes back, I come back. And we will fix this sh–.”
At a recent rally in New Hampshire, Trump said ”Tom Homan was incredible, right?”
We sent a message to Homan through his consulting website to ask about his remarks, and we also asked the Trump campaign in an email if Trump plans to bring Homan back. We did not get a reply.
17. “He would terminate the Constitution if he determined that fraud occurred during an election.”
Trump did say this, although he later sought to walk it back.
In a Dec. 3, 2022, Truth Social post, Trump alleged election fraud in 2020 and wrote that “massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!”
Two days after his post, Trump sought to walk back his words about the Constitution, writing in a new post, “The Fake News is actually trying to convince the American People that I said I wanted to ‘terminate’ the Constitution” and called it “disinformation and lies.”
Despite Trump’s follow-up post, he said plainly in his initial statement the alleged fraud “allows for the termination” of constitutional rules. We rated Trump’s notion that he could terminate the Constitution Pants on Fire.
President Donald Trump walks with Wendy Sartory Link, Supervisor of Elections Palm Beach County, after casting his ballot for the presidential election on Oct. 24, 2020, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP)
18. “Eliminate all early and absentee voting in America.”
Trump has been inconsistent about whether he wants to allow early voting or mail ballots.
Trump told Real America’s Voice radio show, “We should have one-day voting, we should have paper ballots, and we should have voter ID.” But two days earlier, Trump recorded a message for the Republican National Committee’s 2024 early voting campaign called “Bank Your vote.”
“Go to bankyourvote.com to sign up and commit to voting early. … We’re going to win, and we’re going to make America great again,” Trump said.
Legally, the idea that a president could shut down early voting is dubious. Those are decisions generally set by state legislators.
19. “Create a commission to investigate his long-standing theory that vaccines cause autism.”
Trump has repeatedly made comments that could leave voters with the impression that he is tying vaccines to autism — and he has said he would create a commission to investigate what is causing autism. However, in our review of Trump’s speeches, we found Trump was not as blunt as MeidasTouch asserts.
During a 2023 speech at the conservative Turning Point Action conference, Trump said he would not give “one penny” to any school that has a “vaccine mandate.”
Immediately following that comment, Trump said, “I will also continue my long record of standing up to Big Pharma by creating a special presidential commission to investigate what is causing the decades-long increase in childhood diseases, autoimmune disorders, autism, obesity, infertility and other chronic health problems.”
Although the comment about vaccines was followed by a comment about investigating what causes autism, Trump stopped short of directly linking vaccines and autism; he urged further investigation.
20. “End birthright citizenship by executive order.”
Trump did make this promise.
Birthright citizenship is the automatic granting of citizen status to anyone born on United States soil. In a video, Trump said that “as part of my plan to secure the border on day one of my new term in office, I will sign an executive order making clear to federal agencies that under the correct interpretation of the law, going forward, the future children of illegal aliens will not receive automatic U.S. citizenship. It’s things like this that bring millions of people to our country.”
However, legal experts say that anything short of a constitutional amendment seeking to end birthright citizenship would prompt a major court battle.
Trump broke his 2016 campaign promise to end birthright citizenship.
21. He would “fire 40,000 career civil servants on day one and replace them with ‘patriots’ loyal to him.”
This aligns with Trump’s past actions and reporting by the online news outlet Axios.
Shortly before the 2020 election, Trump signed an executive order called “Creating Schedule F in the Excepted Service.” It established a new employment category for federal employees. Biden rescinded it when he took office.
Under the order, tens of thousands of civil servants who have an influence over policy would become “Schedule F” employees without civil service protections. An initial estimate by the Trump administration estimated that it could apply to as many as 50,000 federal workers out of more than 2 million total. That would be more than 10 times larger than the current number of politically appointed federal positions, which is more than 4,000.
22. “Set up a commission to study whether genetically engineered marijuana is the cause of mass shootings.”
Trump didn’t directly say that genetically engineered marijuana caused mass shootings, nor did he specify that a commission should study it. But he did suggest a possible link when he spoke at the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action’s leadership forum in April.
While discussing school safety and arming teachers, Trump said, “We need to drastically change our approach to mental health” and vowed to ask the Food and Drug Administration to convene an independent outside panel to investigate whether “transgender hormone treatments and ideology increase the risk of extreme depression, aggression and even violence.” Then he moved on to marijuana: “Furthermore, we have to look at whether common psychiatric drugs as well as genetically engineered cannabis and other narcotics are causing psychotic breaks.”
He did make this promise, and it’s similar to pledges made by other Republican presidential candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.
In a policy video, Trump promised to close the department and “to send all education work and needs back to the States.”
However, eliminating the department would have to go through Congress, so Trump couldn’t do it on his own.
24. “Reinstitute a ban on transgender people serving in the military.”
During his July 15 Turning Point Action speech, Trump vowed to reinstate his transgender military ban. “I will restore the Trump ban on transgender in the military. I had it stopped, totally stopped, and then they approved it,” he said.
Biden reversed the ban in January 2021, days after he took office.
25. “He will ‘bring back God’ into the public school system.”
He said this.
“On Day 1,” he continued, “we will begin to find the radical zealots and Marxists who have infiltrated the federal Department of Education and we will have them escorted from the building.”
26. “Impose a new 10% tariff (tax) on all goods imported into the US.”
Trump suggested an “automatic” 10% tariff on goods imported from all countries. The only wiggle room might be that Trump said it would be imposed “when companies come in and dump their products in the United States.” “Dumping” has a specific definition in international trade, referring to instances in which a foreign company sells a product in the U.S. below its home-country price or lower than its cost of production.
However, a later comment by Trump in the interview — that “I do like the 10% for everybody” — would support a more informal definition of the word.
Biden’s White House said the 10% levy would amount to a “sweeping tariff tax on the middle class,” increasing inflation to spike and hamper economic growth, Bloomberg reported.
27. “Reinstitute a travel ban on people from Muslim countries.”
“When I return to office, the travel ban is coming back even bigger than before and much stronger than before,” Trump said at an Iowa campaign event in July. “We don’t want people blowing up our shopping centers. We don’t want people blowing up our cities, and we don’t want people stealing our farms. So it’s not gonna happen.”
In the statements we analyzed, Trump didn’t specify “Muslim.” But he said he is renewing his 2016 promise, which was a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” The Supreme Court upheld the third version of Trump’s ban, but it was not a “total” ban on Muslims entering the U.S., so we rated this a Promise Broken.
PolitiFact researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this article.