President Donald Trump, less than a month away from leaving office, has named a spate of loyalists to plum boards – placing longtime aide Hope Hicks get the group overseeing Fulbright scholars and putting the businessman who introduced him to the first lady on the Kennedy Center board.
Paulo Zampolli introduced Trump to the the former Melania Knauss when she was a Slovenian model at the Kit Kat club in 1998. He will not sit on the board of the Kennedy Center – nabbing a prestigious perk in Washington social circles (although indoor concerts are shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic).
The Italy-born Zampolli ran a modeling business in New York, and attended the couple’s wedding at Mar-a-Lago. He also helped secure Melania her first visa (she is now a U.S. citizen, as are her two parents).
ON BOARD! Hope Hicks has been named to a board overseeing Fulbright scholars
The Kennedy Center post could provide opportunities to score tickets to the National Symphony or the Washington National Opera – plus opportunities to huddle with billionaire David Rubinstein, musician Lee Greenwood, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Victoria Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Hicks is a senior counsel to the president who previously served as communications director, worked for the Trump Organization, and handled press duties when Trump’s campaign had a skeleton crew.
Trump continues to insist he won the election, although the Electoral College met and made Joe Biden’s 306 to 232 win official. Nevertheless, the nominations had the hallmarks of parting acknowledgements provided to those who had served the Trump White House.
Former Floria Attorney General Pam Bondi, who defended Trump during his impeachment, also scored a Kennedy Center appointment.
Derek Lyons, the White House staff secretary – he replaced Rob Porter following domestic abuse allegations – also joins the Fulbright Board.
Paolo Zmpolli, who introduced Trump to former model and now first lady Melania Knauss, will join the board of the Kennedy Center
Trump gave Hicks a warm sendoff when she left the White House and joined Fox News, only to return as a senior advisor
Pam Bodni, who defended Trump during impeachment and was an early defender in the days after the Nov. 3 election, also scored a Kennedy Center appointment
Ric Grenell, former acting director of National Intelligence, center, speaks during a news conference hosted by the Trump Campaign outside the Clark County Election Department in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020. Grenell was named to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council
The prestigious Fulbright scholarships were established after World War II
The Kennedy Center board posts offer prime networking opportunities and the chance to steer an important cultural institution
Others warming seats there include former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, former State Department official Heather Nauert, and former counselor to the president Johnny DeSterfano.
First lady chief of staff Stephanie Grisham, a previous Trump campaing spokesman and former White House press secretary who didn’t hold a briefing during her tenure, will become a member of the National Board for Education Sciences.
Richard Grenell, who served as ambassador to Germany, then declassified Russia probe documents as acting director of national intelligence will become a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.
Russ Vought, director of the Office of Management and Budget, will join the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Trump named Marcus David Bachmann, the husband of former Rep. Michele Bachmann f Minnesota, to be a member of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. Michele Bachmann said of Trump on a religious broadcast: ‘He is highly biblical, and I would say to your listeners, we will in all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetime.’