Ex-rep Grimm hires former Trump adviser for comeback bid

Ex-rep Grimm hires former Trump adviser for comeback bid
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Former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), who resigned from Congress in 2014 and served time in prison for fraud, has hired one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' DC board rejects Trump Hotel effort to dismiss complaint seeking removal of liquor license on basis of Trump's 'character' Mexico's immigration chief resigns amid US pressure over migrants MORE's former campaign advisers as he readies an expected bid to win back his old seat. 
 
Michael Caputo, a New York-based political strategist, confirmed to The Hill that he is working for Grimm, who is holding a rally in Staten Island on Sunday where he is expected to announce his bid against Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.). 
 
Caputo did not confirm whether that event will include a campaign announcement, but he made clear that Grimm believes he can win in the heavily Republican district by framing Donovan as weak on his support for Trump. 
 
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Caputo is a well-known Republican strategist who has been a long-time ally of President Trump's and considers former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon a friend. His hiring indicates that Grimm plans to pitch himself to Republican primary voters as a steadfast Trump ally in Congress.
 
"In 2018, there will only be one candidate for New York-11 who supports Donald Trump — and that's Michael Grimm," Caputo told The Hill. 
 
"It's time to put a price tag on what it means for a Republican to oppose President Trump." 
 
Grimm pleaded guilty and served seven months in prison on fraud charges related to a restaurant he owned. Prosecutors accused Grimm of paying undocumented workers under the table and avoiding paying taxes on those employees' salaries. 
 
He and his allies have framed his prosecution as politically motivated, noting that the U.S. Attorney who brought the charges against him, Loretta Lynch, later became former President Obama's Attorney General. 
 
Caputo made a similar charge in a brief conversation with The Hill on Friday, comparing Grimm's charges to those brought against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and conservative author Dinesh D'Souza, who have also argued that they have been targeted because of their politics. 
 
"Michael Grimm was targeted exactly as Sheriff Arpaio was, Dinesh D'Souza was, and how the President of the United States, Donald Trump, is now," Caputo said. 
 
Grimm has been preparing a bid for months. But it remains to be seen whether he'll have the support needed to win his old seat back, or if the anti-Trump charges will stick. 
 
Virtually all of the State Island Republican machine is standing behind Donovan, who is well-liked in the district. Grimm, by contrast, had a reputation for erratic behavior even before the fraud charges — he once threatened to throw a reporter off a balcony. And while Donovan has broken with the president on a few key pieces of legislation, he argues that he did so because of the unique affects those bills would have had on New York City. 
 
Jessica Proud, a Donovan spokeswoman, dismissed Grimm's challenge in a statement to The Hill, which also points to anti-Trump comments made by Grimm supporter and prominent Staten Island Republican Guy Molinari about Trump during the GOP primary. 
 
"Con man Grimm is desperate for people to think he's the candidate of President Trump, but the truth is that he stood silent throughout the entire presidential campaign and his biggest benefactor is a vocal never-Trumper. Republicans will see right through him," she said.
Caputo, like a handful of other Trump campaign associates, recently testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee as it looks into the scope of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. Caputo, who worked in Russia during the 1990s, told lawmakers that he never saw any inkling of collusion between the Russian government and Trump's campaign.