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Trump's friends turned foes


[WASHINGTON] Donald Trump's falling out with longtime lawyer and consigliere Michael Cohen is just the latest in a series of spectacular feuds between the president and close confidants.

The fixer

On paper, Michael Cohen's job seemed straight forward: "personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump."

But over the course of 20 years, the former personal injury lawyer's role encompassed a much broader suite of services - spokesman, cheerleader, foot soldier, enforcer, cleanup guy and - sometimes - attorney.

No one could talk up or back up Mr Trump quite like Mr Cohen, who once said Mr Trump was less of a boss and more of a "patriarch" and "mentor".

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Their relationship began to turn sour when Mr Cohen was not offered a job in the administration, but collapsed completely when Mr Cohen's legal difficulties were met with studied silence by the world's most powerful man.

Mr Cohen had repeatedly got Mr Trump out of scrapes, but Mr Trump would clearly not return the favour.

So tapes of private conversations were leaked, revelations were made and then the tweets started flying.

"Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam (Taxi cabs maybe?)," Mr Trump said, apparently trying to compound Mr Cohen's legal troubles.

The strategist

Aside from Mr Trump himself, there was perhaps no one who did more to get the businessman elected than Steve Bannon - fashioning a far-right and Republican coalition that delivered Mr Trump to power.

At the White House, he was Mr Trump's chief strategist, and first among equals when it came to senior aides.

Despite being blamed for the internal feuding and leaks that hobbled the administration in its early days, he left the White House on relatively good terms.

But his participation in Michael Wolff's gossipy and extremely damaging book Fire and Fury angered Mr Trump.

The president dubbed him "Sloppy Steve", apparently for his militantly casual dress sense, and suggested he "cried when he got fired and begged for his job."

The pair have since reconciled somewhat.

The senator

When then-senator Jeff Sessions endorsed Mr Trump for president in February 2016, it was a shot in the arm for his unlikely candidature, conferring establishment legitimacy and boosting his primary chances in the conservative south.

The pair toured the country, campaigned and traded compliments, until Mr Trump tapped him to become attorney general.

But when his friend vowed to recuse himself from any cases linked to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Mr Trump exploded, stating that he never should have given him the job, berating him as "VERY weak" for not investigating Hillary Clinton. But he has not been fired, so far.

Yet like many who have feuded with Mr Trump, including his own children, they often come back into the fold.

The wife

Mr Trump's first marriage, to Ivana Zelnickova, did not end well.

It was sparked by Mr Trump's affair with Marla Maples - who became his second wife - and played out publicly in excruciating detail.

The "billion-dollar blowup" as one tabloid put it, saw demands for property, leaked stories about child neglect, Ms Maples boasting about how good sex was with Trump and rumours that the businessman disapproved of Ms Ivana's breast implants.

Years on, Ms Ivana claims that she still talks to Trump as much as twice a week, and acts as a "secret adviser".


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