The president’s acquired a White House staff, but his old friends still prefer to go through his longtime Trump Tower assistant.
When longtime friends and associates of President Donald Trump want to reach him, they don’t go directly to the White House. Instead, they call the woman who’s been the gatekeeper at Trump Tower for a quarter century: Rhona Graff.
Since Trump took office in January, Graff has become a conduit for those who want to quietly offer advice, make personnel suggestions or get on the president’s calendar when he’s at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The list includes investor Ken Langone and Hank Greenberg, the chairman & CEO of CV Starr whose assistant recently went to Graff about trying to set up a lunch with Trump, according to a person with knowledge of the call.
POLITICO spoke to seven associates of Trump who still pass on messages to the president through Graff, most of whom requested anonymity so as not to risk their access.
“If I really wanted to whisper something in his ear, I would probably go to Rhona,” said New York grocery billionaire John Catsimatidis, who’s dabbled in New York Republican politics and has known Trump for decades.
Some of the calls are just a matter of habit for people who have dealt with Graff for decades — but some see her as a way to get around White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and others surrounding Trump in Washington.
Roger Stone, a Republican strategist and long-time confidant of Trump, described Graff as a favored point of contact for “anyone who thinks the system in Washington will block their access.”