Thu, Apr 27, 2017 - Page 9 News List

Twenty people Trump turns to for advice

The US President relies heavily on friends and family from outside the administration

By Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush  /  NY Times News Service, WASHINGTON

Illustration: Mountain People

Relationships have always been US President Donald Trump’s currency and comfort, helping him talk his way into real-estate deals over three decades in New York. Those who know him best say that his outer confidence has always belied an inner uncertainty, and that he needs to test ideas with a wide range of people.

As Trump’s White House advisers jostle for position, the president has turned to another group of advisers — from family, real estate, media, finance and politics, all outside the White House gates — many of whom he consults at least once a week.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch is on the phone every week, encouraging Trump when he’s low and arguing that he should focus on the economy rather than detouring to other issues.

Developer Richard LeFrak is a soothing voice who listens to Trump’s complaints that cost estimates for the border wall with Mexico are too high.

Conservative television host Sean Hannity tells the president that keeping promises on core Republican issues is crucial.

Trump’s West Wing aides, like then-president Bill Clinton’s staff two decades before, say they sometimes cringe at the input from people they cannot control, with consequences they cannot predict.

Knowing these advisers — who are mostly white, male and older — is a key to figuring out the words coming from Trump’s mouth and appearing on his Twitter feed.

Here, based on interviews with more than a dozen friends, top aides and advisers inside and outside the White House, are 20 of Trump’s outside touchstones.

THE MOGUL

Rupert Murdoch

Trump’s relationships depend on two crucial measures: Personal success and loyalty to him. Murdoch excels in both categories. His New York Post vaulted Trump from local housing developer to gossip-page royalty, and his Fox News Channel was pro-Trump in last year’s general election.

The two share preferences for transactional tabloid journalism and never giving in to critics — Trump said fallen Fox star Bill O’Reilly should not have settled sexual harassment complaints.

The president’s relationship with Murdoch is deeper and more enduring than most in his life, and in their calls they commiserate and plot strategy, according to people close to both.

Murdoch even called the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, to buck him up after Spicer was savaged for a remark about Adolf Hitler.

THE MEDIA

Sean Hannity

US presidents always deploy surrogates to appear on television to spout their talking points, but Trump has expanded on that by developing relationships with sympathetic media figures like Hannity who also serve as advisers.

Hannity, the Fox News host, defends Trump’s most controversial behavior in public, but privately, according to people close to Trump, he urges the president not to get distracted and advises him to focus on keeping pledges such as repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Chris Ruddy

The chief executive of Newsmax Media is a longtime Mar-a-Lago member and was a Trump cheerleader among conservative media well before the Web site Breitbart joined the parade. He employs writers and editors who tracked Trump’s career when they were at the New York Post. He recently visited the Oval Office, and he and Trump kibitz in Florida and by phone.

THE LAWYER

Sheri Dillon

Dillon seemed out of place when she spoke at a too-large lectern in the lobby of Trump Tower on Jan. 11, describing the steps Trump planned to take to separate himself from his business.

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