Who's who: Trump aides, associates drawing attention
Posted April 12
WASHINGTON — A number of President Donald Trump's top and former aides have received unwanted attention in recent days as they struggle with internal divisions, blundered comments and investigation revelations. Here's a rundown of who's who for those trying to keep track:
Trump's chief strategist and senior counselor has been the target of the left since he formally joined Trump's campaign, thanks to the far-right views of the website he used to run, Breitbart News.
In an interview with the New York Post this week, Trump appeared to distance himself from Bannon, the chief architect of several major administration policies, including Trump's stalled travel bans.
In the interview, Trump downplayed Bannon's role in his campaign, claiming that his chief strategist was not involved "until very late." That's despite the fact that Bannon took over as the campaign's CEO in August of last year.
Trump's early months in office have been filled with infighting between his aides. "Steve is a good guy," Trump told the Post, but cautioned that if the infighting doesn't stop, he'll intervene. It was a rare public warning shot heard across Washington.
The White House press secretary is one of the most visible faces of Trump's administration. His daily on-camera briefings have become must-see-TV for large swaths of the nation, and he has been repeatedly parodied on shows like "Saturday Night Live."
But Spicer has spent the last 24 hours on an apology tour, after he claimed that Adolf Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons." Critics noted the remark ignored Hitler's use of gas chambers to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust. The comment marked the second time in as many days that Spicer appeared to struggle to articulate the president's foreign policy at a critical time. The day before, he suggested that the use of barrel bombs by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government might lead to further military action. A White House spokesman later walked back the comment, saying the U.S. position hadn't changed.
Spicer has called his comments about the Holocaust "inappropriate and insensitive."
Trump's former campaign chairman's foreign consulting work has become a headache for the White House. A Manafort spokesman said Wednesday Manafort would be registering as a foreign lobbyist.
The spokesman says Manafort's lobbying work was not conducted on behalf of the Russian government and began before Manafort started working with the Trump campaign.
It's unclear whether Trump was aware that Manafort was in talks with the government about registering before he hired him.
Before taking over Trump's campaign last May, Manafort worked for a slew of foreign clients, including a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine and Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. In 2005, he proposed an ambitious plan to promote the interests of "the Putin government" and undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics, the Associated Press has reported.
The AP also reported Wednesday that at least $1.2 million in payments listed in a handwritten ledger in Ukraine as paid to Manafort were received by his U.S. consulting firm.
Manafort has denied any wrongdoing and the White House has tried to downplay Trump's connections to Manafort, wrongly stating that he played only a "limited role" in Trump's campaign.
Page was a little-known critic of the U.S policy toward Russia when he was tapped by Trump to serve as one of a handful of foreign policy advisers.
It remains unclear how exactly the two met and what Page's role actually entailed. But Page is now known to be the focus of a federal investigation Trump's campaign ties to Russia.
The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor Page's communications because the government had reason to believe Page was acting as a Russian agent, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Page also met with a Russian intelligence operative in 2013 and provided him documents about the energy industry, according to court documents from a 2015 prosecution alleging a Cold War-style spy ring in New York. Page was not accused of wrongdoing relayed to the case and said in a statement that he shared "basic immaterial information" and publicly available research documents.
A former Merrill Lynch investment banker, Page worked out of the company's Moscow office for three years. He now runs Global Energy Capital, a firm describes as focused on energy sectors in emerging markets.
Trump's former national security adviser, Flynn was ousted in February for misleading Vice President Mike Pence about the nature his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the White House said.
Flynn was interviewed by the FBI in the early days of the Trump administration about the conversations and his ties to Russia are currently under investigation.
He and his firm also recently registered with the Justice Department as foreign agents for lobbying work conducted on behalf of a company owned by a Turkish businessman.
A staunch and early Trump supporter, Flynn is a retired United States Army lieutenant general and was the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.