In a White House not known for specifics, Andrew Bremberg is President Trump’s details guy.
Bremberg, an assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council, has kept a relatively low profile compared with other Trump senior advisers who have dominated headlines.
While White House adviser Stephen Bannon is on the cover of Time, spokesman Sean Spicer is parodied on “Saturday Night Live” by movie star Melissa McCarthy and counselor Kellyanne Conway is a ubiquitous presence on cable news, some White House aides know little about Bremberg.
This belies the influence of the 38-year-old former senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.), who already has penned an important memorandum for Trump on the subject of immigration.
The leaked memorandum signaled a potential harder line to come by Trump, stating that the country’s immigration laws “must ensure the United States does not welcome individuals who are likely to become or have become a burden on taxpayers.”
It also follows through on a promise made by Trump during the campaign to delve deep into work visa programs.
Bremberg’s thick resume is actually in healthcare policy. His past roles include serving as an assistant secretary for public health during the George W. Bush administration — and those who know him believe that will be his main focus in a Trump White House wrestling with how to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
While serving on Scott Walker’s presidential campaign, Bremberg was responsible for helping to shape the Wisconsin governor’s healthcare plan.
“This is his issue,” said one of Bremberg’s former colleagues on the Walker campaign. “He’s going to be one of the most interesting people to watch when it comes to what they’re going to do with ObamaCare, because he’s so familiar with the policy and because he knows all these key players.”
Bremberg did not speak to The Hill for this story.
Late last month, during a GOP retreat in Philadelphia, Bremberg was the Trump representative on a panel with lawmakers including Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyDemocratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Yellen confident of minimum global corporate tax passage in Congress 136 countries agree to deal on global minimum tax MORE (R-Texas).
The interaction with two of the lawmakers who will be at the forefront of congressional efforts to take action on healthcare suggests the large role Bremberg will play.
In the closed-door meeting, Bremberg stopped shy of detailing Trump’s plans, though he emphasized that the executive order signed by Trump the day he took office allows his political appointees to begin taking apart the Affordable Care Act through executive authority.
Bremberg’s knowledge of policy details was something that drew Trump to the New Jersey native. He was initially hired by Trump’s campaign to work on healthcare policy as part of the transition team. He stands out among a White House team filled with campaign veterans such as Conway and chief of staff Reince Priebus.
“His experience in policymaking process has got to be important to them,” said one former colleague. “There aren’t too many people in Trump’s senior circle who have done this before.”
Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs magazine and a longtime friend and former colleague of Bremberg, said the White House adviser’s health specialty and his broad domestic and economic policy expertise make him indispensable.
“Andrew is a smart, policy-savvy, full-spectrum conservative,” Levin said.
Before taking on the role, Bremberg had served as the policy director for the 2016 Republican Party platform, where he had ironed out the policy differences between GOP candidates and their supporters.
At the time, Republicans who were worried about Trump’s candidacy felt reassured by Bremberg’s presence, according to sources familiar with the process.
“It was encouraging to a lot of people who were a little nervous about Trump,” said one source, adding that they knew Bremberg could “preserve the peace in the party.”
“They knew the traditional principles would be preserved,” the source said.
Bremberg graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville, an orthodox Catholic college in Ohio, which one friend said “helped solidify his conservatism.” He went on to receive his law degree from Catholic University and is what one friend called a “classic Reagan conservative.”
In a West Wing full of big personalities, Bremberg is more muted and less flashy, say those who know him.
For years, even before the time he served as counsel on nominations to McConnell, through his work in Wisconsin to now, he has driven around in a beat-up 1999 Chevy Malibu with no air conditioning, colleagues and friends say.
They remember that he would often live by his policy beliefs, teaching his four children the value of money.
Once, while eating doughnuts with his kids, he taught them about taxes by telling them they owed him a bite of each one, dubbing it a tax.
“They started understanding the tax system because they didn’t want to share with him,” one former colleague remembered.
He arrives at his West Wing office at 7 a.m. every day, according to a White House aide. And those who know him say he’s typically the last one out of the office, sometime between 11p.m. and 1 a.m.
One friend said Bremberg and his wife view his job at the White House as a deployment.
“This isn’t easy. It’s a huge sacrifice,” the friend said. “A guy like him would have many opportunities to do something more lucrative. But he’s one of those guys who is more motivated by the mission.”