Who are Donald Trump’s closest friends?11/02/2020
Believe it or not, Donald Trump doesn’t seem to have a lot of friends. At a campaign rally in Wisconsin in September 2020, the president told the crowd (via Forbes) that when he took office, “I lost all my friends.” Trump went on a brief tangent, explaining that before he was the leader of the United States, friends would call him up and ask him to dinner all the time. Now, they are burdened by formalities. He resents when old friends call him “Mr. President,” quipping to the rally, “You’ve known me for 30 years, call me Donald.”
In September 2017, Politico ran an article alleging that in the months following the president’s refusal to condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville and his widely criticized response to Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, Trump found himself increasingly isolated not only from others in the Beltway but friends that he’d had for years. However, the president has reportedly always been something of a loner. His biographer Tim O’Brien called him “one of the loneliest people” he had ever met, claiming, “He lacks the emotional and sort of psychological architecture a person needs to build deep relationships with other people.”
Of course, Trump is close with his children, keeping Donald Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and her husband Jared Kushner as close as possible throughout his term. He has scores of acquaintances, but his celebrity friends have dwindled since he became president. Despite his alleged isolation, though, Trump still maintains a handful of close friends.
Donald Trump prizes loyalty most of all
In 2016, as Donald Trump’s campaign for president continued to climb in the polls against all odds, many who once considered themselves friendly with the future president began publicly distancing themselves. When asked by The New York Times to name his best friends, Trump named just two people from outside his family: Richard LeFrak and Howard M. Lorber.
LeFrak is, like Trump, a real estate mogul, and the two have reportedly been friends for over 40 years. “Donald has some friends like me, but he’s much more of a homebody than you’d think,” LeFrak told the Times. Per Town & Country, Trump and LeFrak share a love of beauty contests and Mar-a-Lago, the president’s Florida property where LeFrak has been a guest for well over a decade.
Like LeFrak, Lorber shares in Trump’s delight of simple pleasures, like hamburgers and Florida vacations. Lorber also made his fortune from real estate and served as one of the economic advisors to Trump’s 2016 campaign, per The Washington Post.
Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani go way back
One of Donald Trump’s closest friends is a man who always tries to defend the president, even if he shoots them both in the foot in the process: Rudy Giuliani. Although it seems that the two have gotten closer since Trump entered the Oval Office, the men have run in the same circles for over 30 years, both epitomizing a certain subset of New York City culture in the 1980s and 1990s.
According to Politico, before entering politics himself, Trump found it beneficial to support other politicians. Former Trump casino executive Jack O’Donnell described Trump’s political philosophy as “support everybody, because you’re going to be asking whoever it is for favors.” Trump started giving money to Giuliani’s campaigns beginning in 1987, and the two maintained at least a good working relationship throughout Giuliani’s mayoral term in the ’90s.
When Giuliani ran for president in 2008, Trump, in his typical fashion, supported both him and then-Senator Hillary Clinton. Needless to say, neither candidate won, and both Trump and Giuliani heavily criticized President Obama throughout his term. While Giuliani was not an immediate Trump supporter during his first campaign, once he began supporting Trump, he became one of the president’s top surrogates, and the two have never been closer.
The close friend Trump lost while president
One of Donald Trump’s longest friendships was with Thomas Barrack, a billionaire investor born to Lebanese immigrants. Barrack may have even been Trump’s best friend: The two have been linked since at least the 1980s, when Barrack assisted Trump with negotiations around the Plaza Hotel, according to Town & Country. Per Politico, Barrack comforted Trump during Fred Trump’s (Donald’s father’s) funeral and was appointed by Donald to oversee his 2017 inauguration.
Barrack’s inauguration planning, however, is reportedly what drove a wedge between the two men. The Mueller report alleged that some of the funds for the inauguration were misspent and that foreigners allegedly were spending money on the event in exchange for access to the president. According to an unnamed senior administration official, Trump was “really upset” and surprised to hear that Barrack had a role in this scandal, especially “because the president doesn’t get any of that money.”
In 2019, Barrack was investigated for breaking laws “requiring lobbyists to register when they work for foreign interests.” This also came as Trump reportedly stopped speaking to Barrack because he’s “the kind of guy who would tell [Trump] things he didn’t want to hear,” an official told Politico. Whether this is simply a rough patch or the total end of their relationship remains to be seen.
Donald Trump saved Roger Stone from prison
Like many of his friendships, Donald Trump’s relationship with Roger Stone goes back to the 1980s. The political consultant was introduced to Trump in 1980 by Roy Cohn while Stone was working for Ronald Reagan’s campaign, according to The Atlantic. The same year, Stone launched a lobbying firm with Paul Manafort, which counted the Trump Organization as one of its first clients.
When Trump first teased the idea of running for president in 1998, Stone encouraged him and helped to find him a ghostwriter for The America We Deserve. When Trump launched his successful campaign in 2015, Stone was brought on as an advisor. Though he was fired by August, Trump still called Stone “a good guy” and “so loyal and so wonderful.”
After Trump won the election, Stone became implicated in the Russia investigation and was found guilty of lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing the House investigation. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison, but just before he was set to head to prison, President Trump commuted his sentence. Though the Associated Press noted that this did not overturn Stone’s conviction, it did prevent him from having to serve the sentence.
Trump’s move was heavily criticized by not only people on the left but Republican senators like Mitt Romney as well. Like many of Trump’s decisions, however, the move had less to do with political expediency and more to do with rewarding loyalty.
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