Ari Emanuel wasn’t looking at the Chief of Staff position that his brother held in the Obama administration but the WME boss was certainly considered for a gig in Donald Trump’s White House after his Celebrity Apprentice client was elected in 2016 to almost everyone’s surprise.
Vetting documents leaked to political news site Axios were made public Sunday just in time for the Season 2 finale of their weekly HBO series tonight and as Endeavor Group Holdings moves towards a hefty IPO. Compiled to lesser and greater extents by a hastily assembled group within the Republican National Committee in late 2016, the paperwork flags the powerful Endeavor CEO along with a litany of current and past top Trump officials.
The slightly redacted RNC backgrounder gives no hint as to what gig or gigs specifically Emanuel in consideration for.
However, a very well-place political source tells Deadline that Emanuel was seen as a potential senior White House policy advisor position for the soon to be 45th POTUS. “Something with a wide-ranging portfolio,” the source noted, “like what (David) Axelrod had with Obama, a problem solver.”
Though Emanuel had a well covered sit-down with his ex-client in late November 2016, just days after Trump defeated Hilary Clinton, there was no official job offer mentioned or dribbled out OTR. Though a 2010 Deadline article is among the just over 20-page Emanuel vetter (read it here), Endeavor had no comment on the vetting docs or any Emanuel administration job when contacted by Deadline today.
Still, in many ways, it seems an obvious play by Trump to want a well-known knee capper like Emanuel close by his side. Emanuel had worked the Tinseltown angles for the Manhattan developer for years and the two alpha males had become buddies, unlike many others who the then President-elect met once or twice before offering them a job.
Yet, clearly cobbled together by little more than a few keystrokes and a five minute Google search, the superficial vetting document certainly wouldn’t get you a job in the mailroom at WME or CAA, as Emanuel started his Hollywood career back in the Reagan Era.
With an anti-matter Greatest Hits of sorts emphasis on a 2002 harassment lawsuit since settled, Mel Gibson, Endeavor’s purchase of the Miss Universe Pageant from Trump in 2015 and the fact that cutthroat Democrat and just retired Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is the exec’s brother, the vetting docs for Emanuel and others are also deeply indicative of the flaw methodology employed by the RNC.
Just check out some of the brusque questions poised and the “turbulent times” foreseen:
• As a registered Democrat, and someone who has financially supported Democrats, do you have any reservations about working in a Republican administration, and if so what are they?
• Will you agree to cease all political activity and donations in support of Democratic
candidates and causes inconsistent with the political goals of the President-elect while
working within the administration?
• Do you believe the aggressive rhetoric of this past campaign season has damaged Mr. Trump’s ability to governor? (Yes the typo is theirs)
• Given your history working with Mr. Trump, your lack of support during the campaign was notable. Do you have any doubt you will be able to publicly back the President during turbulent times should you join the administration?
• Will you have any personal issues during times when the Trump administration faces
partisan criticism from Democrats, including your brother Rahm or President Obama?
• Was there any truth to the allegations made about the work culture at your company, and if not why did the company decide to settle with the plaintiff?
• Would it be at all likely that former employees might emerge with public accusations
similar to those outlined in this lawsuit?
• Has there been any event or problem at Endeavor that could arise and create issues should you join the administration?
As a slew of resignations and pink slips over the last year and a half have made very clear, this manner of picking some of the most powerful people in the world was a not so discerning rush by Team Trump. Looking to get names on the board, it was a race to fill White House jobs, cabinet positions and department heads in the weeks after the one-time Emmy nominee won the election – an election even his inner circle believed was at best a branding exercise that hit the big time.
There is one thing that the Emanuel background is informative about – which political hopefuls the Entourage inspiring agent has given money to over the decades.
Surprisingly, even though a lot of high rollers play both ends of the political spectrum, Ari did donate $1,000 to the RNC back in 2005 according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Otherwise, from Al Gore to Bill Bradley to Barack Obama, Barbara Boxer, Hillary Clinton, Cory Booker, Al Franken, John Kerry, Chuck Schumer and many more Dems, it’s been all Blue State pols all the time for Ari Emanuel, which probably was a hard rail for the extremely partisan Trump Train to bring on board.