Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino is the staffer who’s been around the longest —and he started as Trump’s caddie

White House social media director Dan Scavino is one of President Donald Trump's closest advisers.

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White House social media director Dan Scavino is one of President Donald Trump’s closest advisers.
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REUTERS/Jim Bourg/Files

  • White House social media director Dan Scavino is President Donald Trump’s longest-serving aide, and the mastermind behind much of Trump’s social media strategy.
  • His relationship with Trump runs all the way back to 1990, when a 16-year-old Scavino was hand-picked to be Trump’s caddie.
  • Now, according to a recent report in Politico, Scavino is an “indispensable” member of Trump’s team, and one of the staffers who spends the most time with Trump and serves as a sounding board for his social media strategy and even policy issues.
  • Here’s how Scavino went from cleaning clubs to managing Trump’s social media.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

There’s only one White House staffer who’s not family that’s been in President Donald Trump’s orbit since the early days of the campaign: social media director Dan Scavino.

When former White House Communications Director Hope Hicksdeparted the administration in March of 2018, Scavino became Trump’s longest-serving aide. But he has been by Trump’s side since way before his 2016 campaign began.

His relationship with Trump runs all the way back to 1990, when a 16-year-old Scavino was hand-picked to be Trump’s caddie. Since that chance selection, Scavino has rocketed high into the ranks of Trump’s communications team, and today is part of a small group of people in charge of the White House’s messaging.

Now, according to a recent report in Politico, Scavino is an “indispensable” member of Trump’s team, and one of the staffers who spends the most time with Trump and serves as a sounding board for his social media strategy and even policy issues.

Here’s how Scavino went from cleaning clubs to managing Trump’s social media:


Scavino’s family hails from northern Italy. His great-grandfather entered the US through Ellis Island in the early 1900s and soon settled in New York City.

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Flickr/andrewcparnell

Source: Politico Magazine


After Trump began criticizing what he called “chain migration,” many pointed out that Scavino’s family itself had came to the US through this process. After his ancestor Vittorio came to New York in 1904, other members of his family followed over the next few years.

Sources: Politico Magazine, Business Insider


Scavino was born in 1976 and grew up in the New York City metropolitan area.

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Dan Scavino.
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When he was 16 years old, Scavino was working a summer job cleaning golf clubs at New York’s Briar Hall Country Club in the lower Hudson Valley when the country club got an unexpected visitor.

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The Brair’s Hall, which is now called the Trump National Golf Club Westchester.
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Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Source: CNN


It was 1990. Briar’s Hall was headed for foreclosure, and Trump was interested in expanding his golf empire. When the future president dropped by, Scavino was in the right place at the right time, and was chosen to be his golf caddie for the day.

Source: CNN


“I’ll never forget the day his limo first pulled up,” Scavino said years later. “I was star-struck. I remember his first gratuity. It was two bills ― two hundred-dollar bills. I said, ‘I am never spending this money.’ I still have both bills.”

Source: Huffington Post


Scavino went on to graduate from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 1997, and then worked several jobs in his 20s, including on in the sales department of a Coca-Cola bottler. But his encounter with Trump in 1990 soon bore fruit for him.

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Scavino (center)
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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Sources: Facebook, Huffington Post


In 2004, Trump hired Scavino to be the assistant manager of the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester where they had first met, and he became the executive vice president of the club in 2008.

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A view of the clubhouse at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester, where Trump held a campaign event on June 7, 2016.
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REUTERS/Mike Segar

Source: Huffington Post


Scavino even appeared on an episode of Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice.”

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Source: CNN


When Trump was musing a serious presidential run, Scavino told him he would “drop everything” to work with him on the campaign. In July 2015, Trump asked him to join.

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Scavino on CNN
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Brian Snyder/Reuters

Source: Huffington Post, Fortune


In February 2016, Trump chose Scavino to head his social media campaign, which had been growing in size and scope. But while he headed up the effort as a whole, he let Trump be Trump on Twitter.

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Dan Scavino during the campaign.
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Wikimedia Commons

Source: Huffington Post


It seems this has been the secret to Scavino’s success. “He doesn’t run anything by me,” Scavino told CNN in 2016. “We’re a different campaign.”

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Scavino on CNN
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Screenshot via CNN/YouTube

Source: CNN


Scavino traveled with Trump for months, and sometimes took dictation from him for his tweets.

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump boards his plane as Scavino takes his photo from the top of the stairs following a campaign rally in Tampa.
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Thomson Reuters

Source: CNN


But the campaign was not without controversy — not only did Trump’s unfiltered messaging make waves, but the campaign came under fire for several allegedly offensive tweets.

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Scavino (R) walks with former White House staff secretary Rob Porter.
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On one occasion, Trump tweeted a picture of then-2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton with the text “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” inside of a six-point star. The symbol was seen as anti-Semitic, and the campaign eventually changed the graphic.

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The original image, which Scavino chose.
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Screenshot via Twitter

Source: Business Insider


Shortly after Trump’s victory in the election, the president-elect named Scavino White House Director of Social Media.

Source: Huffington Post


While Trump writes most of his own tweets, Scavino directs the overall tone of Trump’s feed, often taking other staffers’ suggestions for tweets adapting them to “Trump it up,” — or channel Trump’s exact thoughts and feelings, according to Politico.

Source: Politico


Scavino is also the mastermind behind the “Game of Thrones” themed series of tweets Trump put out to announce sanctions on Iran and to proclaim his innocence after the release of the Mueller report.

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Screenshot via @realdonaldtrump/Twitter

Source: Politico


Scavino has become a vital part of Trump’s administration, and even followed him to places like the Vatican to meet Pope Francis in 2017.

Source: Reuters


But Scavino couldn’t stay out of trouble for long. He violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch officials from being involved in electoral activity, when he sent a tweet urging the defeat of Rep. Justin Amash. He was warned that an other violation “could result in further action.”

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Dan Scavino Jr./Twitter

Sources: AP, Washington Post


In September 2017, he tried to warn people in Florida about Hurricane Irma, but accidentally tweeted video of wrong storm. The Miami International Airport replied to his tweet noting the error.

Source: Business Insider


In January, Scavino’s personal life took a hit when he and his wife Jennifer filed for divorce. They had been married for 18 years and have two children.

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Scavino
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Source: Huffington Post


But despite his troubles, it looks like Scavino’s stint as Trump’s right-hand man on social media won’t end anytime soon.

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Donald Trump
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Leah Millis/Reuters

While Scavino was one of several aides who was rumored to be leaving the White House in 2018, Trump told Politico this month he hoped Scavino “would stay for another six years and maybe another four after that and then another four after that.”

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Former personal aide to the president John McEntee (L), Scavino, and Senior Advisor to the President Stephen Miller leave the White House with Trump on November 29, 2017.
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sources: The New York Times, Politico


According to a recent report in Politico, Scavino is not only the brains behind Trump’s Twitter feed, but one of Trump’s most trusted advisers on policy and personnel issues, too.

Source: Politico


After the departure of Trump’s last communications director Bill Shine, Trump has reportedly decided that as long as he has Scavino, he won’t need a replacement communications chief.

Source: Politico


Scavino also plays a role reassuring Trump that he and his policies are popular. At one point, Trump reportedly called Scavino into a meeting with lawmakers to affirm Trump’s idea to pull US troops out of Syria was being positively received on Twitter.

Source: Politico


Scavino attributes social media as one of Trump’s greatest strengths. “He is in the White House today because of social media,” Scavino told Fox News. “It’s what won him the White House, and he’s just gonna keep tweeting away.”

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Dan Scavino (R) with John Kelly (L)
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Pool via Getty Images

Source: Huffington Post


Hicks and Scavino have been two of Trump’s most trusted confidantes. With her out of the White House, Scavino is now the only aide who’s been with Trump since the beginning.

Source: Business Insider


Scavino has managed to survive for so long in the Trump orbit not only because of his loyalty to Trump, but because he’s learned to keep to himself and stay out of the internal White House turmoil.

Source: Politico

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