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The leader of Washington’s most influential conservative think tank met with Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump on Monday, sources confirmed.
Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint was one of a handful of attendees at a Monday afternoon meeting between Trump, a number of members of Congress, and other influential beltway Republicans.
DeMint was spotted Monday morning entering the Capitol Hill offices of powerhouse D.C. law firm Jones Day, where the meeting took place.
A Heritage source with knowledge of DeMint’s schedule confirmed that he attended the meeting.
“Meeting with candidates about conservative policy is something Heritage has done for a long time,” the source said.
“DeMint and Heritage staff have met with numerous candidates in the last year, including current and former 2016 presidential candidates,” the source said. “This is nothing more than a continuation of those meetings and we will continue to share our ideas with campaigns interested in conservative solutions.”
Heritage spokesman Wesley Denton stressed that DeMint’s role in the meeting was restricted to discussions about policy and avoided more political topics.
“As a section 501(c)(3) organization, Heritage cannot participate in any political campaign in support of or in opposition to any candidate for public office,” Denton said in an emailed statement.
DeMint, a former U.S. senator from South Carolina, was joined at the meeting by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and GOP Reps. Duncan Hunter (Calif.), Scott Desjarlais (Tenn.), and Tom Reed (N.Y.).
Heritage’s 501(c)(4) “Action” arm has reportedly expressed the desire to work with Trump to advance its policy goals if he wins the Republican nomination and November’s general election.
“I think we have landed exactly where the mood of the electorate is. I think that is why politicians are channeling our message. A Trump election or nomination is a complete vindication that Washington needs to change,” Heritage Action chief Mike Needham told the Washington Post earlier this year.
“A President Trump who tries to find policies that address the themes he’s been addressing would be a fantastic opportunity for us to shape the policy agenda,” Needham predicted.
It was not immediately clear what DeMint and Trump discussed at Monday’s event.