A White House Defender in the Trenches of the Swamp


By Daniel Malloy

David Urban’s inbox is jammed. If you don’t mind, he just needs a moment to make sure there are no crises requiring his attention. The burly lobbyist settles into his office chair overlooking glass-paneled downtown Washington office buildings and sifts through the missives, which these days are heavy on Trump administration access seekers. “Can you give me Steve Mnuchin’s email?” he reads aloud — a note from someone seeking the Treasury secretary’s contact.

A lobbyist for American Continental Group, Urban has long been well-connected, but he’s one of few downtown denizens who keep up with Trump’s inner circle by text message. He slugs a Gatorade as he lays out why he was one of the few high-priced lobbyists in town to believe in Donald Trump in late 2015, explaining how he helped engineer Trump’s triumph in Pennsylvania. Thanks to such a narrative, the man who has represented the likes of Comcast and Raytheon now can be even choosier about clients. Political consultant and friend John Brabender says Urban “is one of the most powerful people in America who’s not inside in the administration.” And while he says he’s not working at the White House “for a variety of personal reasons,” Urban gives off a clear desire to be in the fray, a wistfulness for a campaign he says was more intense than serving in Operation Desert Storm.

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