Trump’s in­ner cir­cle: Big fam­ily, but few friends

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

Stephen Ban­non

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

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