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Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Lobbyist Michael Esposito has made a fortune during the Trump presidency, while boasting personal connections with the president and his advisers, the Washington Post reports.

Reality check: Esposito claimed to work with the president's son Eric Trump and son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, but they told the Post they've never heard of him. President Trump tweeted that he didn't know the lobbyist.

  • "I don’t know, to the best of my knowledge, a man named Michael Esposito....." Trump tweeted after the Post's article was published.
  • "I don’t like him using my name to build his consulting company, or whatever. Please advise his clients and Administration officials accordingly," Trump wrote.

The big picture: Esposito's firm, Federal Advocates, claims he is “an integral part of the senior-most leadership” of the Republican National Committee, according to the Washington Post. Contract bids reviewed by the Post claimed Esposito regularly spoke with Trump.

  • But the RNC told the Post Esposito has been exaggerating his role, and they sent him a "cease and desist" letter.
  • White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the president does not know him, while Eric Trump said Esposito “sounds like someone trying to trade off our name.”

Behind the scenes: Ben Freeman, a director at the Center for International Policy, told the Post lobbying firms can attract business because of "the Trump premium."

  • “The closer you are to Trump, the more you can charge clients,” Freeman said.

What he's saying: The Post says Esposito declined an interview for the story, and said that he couldn't reveal details of his work with Kushner and Eric Trump because of nondisclosure agreements.

  • “I also value my reputation and stand by the representations of myself that I have made to friends, colleagues and clients and will continue to do so,” Esposito told the Post.

Go deeper

Why made-for-TV moments matter during the pandemic

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Erin Schaff-Pool, Biden Inaugural Committee via Getty Images

In a world where most Americans are isolated and forced to laugh, cry and mourn without friends or family by their side, viral moments can offer critical opportunities to unite the country or divide it.

Driving the news: President Biden's inauguration was produced to create several made-for-social viral moments, a tactic similar to what the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign pulled off during the Democratic National Convention.

Updated 8 hours ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.