50 days of Trump: Bannon and Conway lead White House cast of characters

David Smith in Washington
Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway are among the most prominent figures in Donald Trump’s inner circle. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The first 50 days of the Trump administration has been a turbulent, often chaotic time for the president’s inner circle, many of whom have gone from relative obscurity to becoming internationally known figures.

Steve Bannon, chief strategist

The former Goldman Sachs banker and Breitbart News head has emerged as all-important, prompting descriptions such as “Trump’s Iago” and leading Time magazine to ask: “Is Steve Bannon the Second Most Powerful Man in the World?” He likes to call the media “the opposition party” and has outlined an agenda of security and sovereignty, economic nationalism and “the deconstruction of the administrative state”.

Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser

She was a dark star of the election campaign, spinning ingenious webs for Trump as a ubiquitous spokeswoman, but her stock has fallen in government after a series of missteps. She used the phrase “alternative facts”, referred to the “Bowling Green massacre” (it never happened), urged TV viewers to buy Ivanka Trump’s products and was photographed kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office.

Jared Kushner, senior adviser

Trump’s son-in-law is spotted at many meetings but seldom heard. Some media reports suggest that Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, are a moderating influence on the president, particularly on issues such as LGBT rights and climate change. It emerged that Kushner was present at a meeting between Michael Flynn and the Russian ambassador last December at Trump Tower.

Donald McGahn, White House counsel

Advises Trump on legal issues and plays guitar in an 80s cover band. He was on the end of an angry tirade by the president last Friday over the attorney general’s decision to rule himself out from oversight of an investigation into Russian contacts and over the legal barriers to Trump’s controversial travel bans. But McGahn ensured that new travel bans were issued.

HR McMaster, national security adviser

A widely praised appointment to succeed the short tenure of Michael Flynn, but McMaster reputedly lost an early battle over the use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”, which Trump uttered with emphasis in his speech to Congress. The thoughtful three-star general has reversed some of Flynn’s decisions but will Trump heed his forthright advice?

Stephen Miller, senior adviser

A “true believer” in the Trump/Bannon vision. One of the masterminds of Trump’s swift executive orders banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, which descended into protests and chaos and was blocked by the courts. But a revised order has been issued and Miller’s fortunes do not appear to have waned. After he defended Trump on the Sunday political TV shows, the president tweeted: “Congratulations Stephen Miller … Great job!” Critics have derided his authoritarian tone after he said: “The powers of the president … are very substantial and will not be questioned.”

Mike Pence, vice-president

As in the campaign, he remains a loyal asset who never swerves far from talking points and is said to have been influential in Trump’s cabinet picks. He spoke at an anti-abortion rally in Washington (“Life is winning again in America”), went on a diplomatic mission to Brussels and visited a vandalised Jewish cemetery in Missouri, prompting some to suggest that Trump should act more vice-presidential.

Reince Priebus, chief of staff

Tried to present a united front with Bannon but multiple media reports suggest he is losing a power struggle. Politico reports that more than a dozen Trump aides, allies and others close to the White House “described a micromanager who sprints from one West Wing meeting to another, inserting himself into conversations big and small and leaving many staffers with the impression that he’s trying to block their access to Trump”.

Sean Spicer, press secretary

Struggling with the task of defending Trump’s every deed and tweet to the media. His pugnacious style has been lampooned mercilessly by Melissa McCarthy on Saturday Night Live, complete with weaponised lectern. Some reports suggest Trump is disappointed in his performances. Spicer holds some briefings off camera – possibly because he does not want his boss to watch.

Omarosa Manigault, assistant to the president, communications director for Office of Public Liaison

The most prominent African American woman in the administration reportedly said Trump sees her as “his Valerie Jarrett”, a reference to Barack Obama’s close friend and adviser. Manigault, a former Apprentice contestant, is seemingly ubiquitous at meetings and press briefings and has walk-in privileges to the Oval Office.

Sebastian Gorka, deputy assistant

The American citizen, born in Britain to Hungarian parents, has emerged as an unapologetic Trump defender on everything from the controversial travel bans to the president’s first solo press conference, which he described as “fabulous”. Gorka – until recently the national security editor for Breitbart News – is now purportedly a member of a White House team called the Strategic Initiatives Group.

Ivanka Trump, daughter

The president’s daughter accompanied Trump to meet the coffin of a Navy Seal killed in a military raid in Yemen, attended a roundtable discussion about women in the workforce with the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and is said to have had input into Trump’s speech to Congress. She is also expected to unveil a plan for lower childcare costs and paid maternity leave, but her clothing line has hit trouble as she is caught up in a backlash against her father.

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