Donald Trump on Monday denounced a D.C. lobbyist who’d been claiming to have close ties to the president and his allies.
“Many people say they know me, claiming to be ‘best friends’ and really close etc., when I don’t know these people at all. This happens, I suppose, to all who become President,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “With that being stated, I don’t know, to the best of my knowledge, a man named Michael Esposito. I don’t like him using my name to build his consulting company, or whatever. Please advise his clients and Administration officials accordingly.”
Esposito’s purported ties to the president first publicly came under scrutiny in an article published by The Washington Post last week that examined Esposito’s sudden business boom. His firm Federal Advocates saw him take in five times as much money last year as he did in the year before.
This summer, Esposito earned $1.6 million from the embattled Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, a massive sum for a single lobbyist. And last year, his firm Federal Advocates landed lucrative Ukrainian clients.
According to contract bids from Federal Advocates reviewed by the Post, Esposito has claimed to have “an open line of communication to the President of the United States” and be in “regular” contact with Trump. He has also boasted of ties to Trump’s youngest adult son, Eric Trump, and his son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner. But Eric Trump, a White House official and press secretary Stephanie Grisham have separately denied that any of the three men know Esposito.
Eric Trump offered a more forceful denial after his father’s tweet Monday, dismissing Esposito as just one more player in the D.C. swamp the president has pledged to drain.
“This makes two of us! I keep hearing this name (Michael Esposito) but have no idea who this person is… could I have met him, possibly but he certainly doesn’t have ‘direct line,’” the younger Trump wrote in a repost of the president’s tweet. “If he ever worked on a Trump project, he didn’t make a lasting impression. Welcome to the swamp.”
Esposito also serves on an honorary advisory board to the chair of the Republican National Committee, a position he got by meeting a certain donor threshold as a member of the Trump Victory Finance Committee. According to the Post, the RNC recently sent Esposito a “cease and desist” letter for misrepresenting his ties to the committee.
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