Trump’s inner circle: Big family, but few friends
Donald Trump is notoriously a one-man show. Asked in March who he consults with on foreign policy, he answered: “myself.” While Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton is often depicted as the formidable center point of an influential universe, Trump is a lone, hotburning star. But the Republican is not completely on his own in the Trump solar system. By his side is a core collection of family and confidants-an inner circle as influential as their number is small. Here are the main figures who advise Trump:
Trump’s wife and children
Melania. Donald Jr. Ivanka. Eric. They are the closest in Trump’s orbit, and hold tremendous sway. Wife Melania Trump, 46, is a former model and jewelry designer born in Slovenia. She has stood by her man during several campaign crises, including offering a stirring defense of Trump after he was heard on a newly released 2005 video making lewd remarks about women.
Donald Trump Jr, 38, is the candidate’s eldest child, and serves as executive vice president of the Trump Organization. He recently made waves when he told Fox News that running for president is a “step down” for his billionaire father. He was also criticized for appearing on a radio show connected to a known white supremacist. Daughter Ivanka, 34, and son Eric, 32, are also executive VPs in their father’s firm. Ivanka helped craft Trump’s child care and maternity leave proposals, and wowed supporters with a prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention.
As chief executive officer of the Trump campaign, Bannon largely operates in the background, but wields immense power. He took a leave of absence from his position as chief executive of Breitbart Media, home to the provocative Breitbart News, when he was brought on board in August to revive Trump’s flagging campaign. The conservative website has become a gathering place for the “alt-right” movement of anti-immigrant white nationalists and other anti-establishment renegades who have embraced Trump. Bannon is their drum major. He is relatively new to right-wing politics, compared with Trump’s long-time friend and advisor Roger Stone, but his influence as head of Breitbart News was swiftly felt. Last year, Bloomberg labeled Bannon, 62, “the most dangerous political operative in America.”
Conway is Trump’s campaign manager, the first woman to run a major Republican presidential effort. She is a veteran GOP pollster who founded The Polling Company, Inc and is known as an expert on focus groups. The 49-year-old first supported Senator Ted Cruz in the primaries, but Trump hired her in August along with Bannon. She is often seen on US media the morning after major Trump events including debates, seeking to steady the roiling waters around the candidate’s campaign ship. When Trump makes a dubious assertion-such as warning he might not accept the election results if he loses-Conway reels him back in.
The outspoken former mayor of New York has known Trump for decades, and is often by the candidate’s side at major rallies, serving as one of his top advisors. Giuliani, 72, has been seen shifting to the right over the past year, offering dramatic statements in support of Trump and painting his rival Clinton as a criminal. “When I see her, I see her in an orange jumpsuit,” Giuliani told a Philadelphia radio station, referring to Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state. Amid revelations that Trump paid no federal income tax after his company declared a major loss, Giuliani called him a “genius” for doing so.
The tough-talking Republican New Jersey governor ran for president this year, and was a harsh Trump critic during the primaries. But the two made peace, and Christie, 54, now heads Trump’s presidential transition team. He helped popularize the chant of “Lock her up!” during his fiery anti-Clinton speech at the Republican convention. But earlier this month Christie said Trump’s remarks condoning sexual assault on the 2005 video were “completely indefensible,” although he did not rescind his endorsement. — AFP