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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.