Who is Rhona Graff, Trump’s Former Assistant Who Is Testifying Against Him?


NEW YORK — For decades, few people had access to Donald Trump like Rhona Graff. Now, Graff, his former personal assistant at the Trump Organization, became the second person to testify against Trump in his criminal trial in lower Manhattan.

At Trump Tower, Graff served as Trump’s gatekeeper. She had an office right outside his door, placing her within earshot of Trump’s requests to get someone on the phone. And when someone wanted to reach Trump, they first had to go through Graff, often requiring a secret code to be put through.

“Everybody knows in order to get through to him,” she once said, “they have to go through me.”

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Prosecutors on Friday spent about 15 minutes questioning Graff before Trump’s legal team started cross-examination, which also was short.

Asked about her role at the Trump Organization, Graff told prosecutors that she compiled records that included emails, contact lists and calendar entries. She said the company’s directory had contact information for Karen McDougal and a “Stormy.”

McDougal is a former Playboy model who has claimed to have had sex with Trump. Stormy appears to be a reference to Stormy Daniels, who has also claimed to have had an affair and whose hush-money payment is central to the criminal case against Trump.

Graff testified that, even though she left the Trump Organization and was testifying in the trial, the organization was paying her legal fees.

Under questioning by a Trump lawyer, she spoke glowingly about her time working for the former president, calling him “fair” as a boss — eliciting a smile from Trump in the courtroom. She also spoke fondly about Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice,” adding that it helped him achieve “rock-star status.”

Graff heard about a job opening in 1987 at the Trump Organization and cold-called to get the position. The job appeared to raise her profile. Six years later, Graff’s wedding announcement was published in The New York Times. She married Lucius Joseph Riccio, the city’s commissioner of transportation, in a wedding officiated by Mayor David Dinkins.

The roles in which she served for Trump extended far beyond being his assistant, as reflected in her title: senior vice president. She acted as Trump’s media liaison, scheduler, sometimes spokesperson, fundraising planner, co-star on “The Apprentice” and as a Miss Teen USA judge.

Graff continued her service during his 2016 presidential campaign and after Trump moved into the White House.

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