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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

1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.