Four sources with knowledge of their relationship said Trump talks to Meadows more than he does with many of his senior aides. They sometimes spend an hour-plus on the phone together or speak more than once per day.

The result is that a three-term congressman little known outside the Beltway has earned an outsized influence on shaping the direction of the Trump administration — and the country. Meadows has the president’s ear on any number of topics, from immigration and border security to criminal justice and international affairs. And he’s used that access to push Trump toward stances aligned with the rapidly ascendant House Freedom Caucus, the hard-line conservative and libertarian caucus founded in 2015 that Meadows chairs.

In other words, Meadows — who many people, even those in D.C., probably couldn’t pick out of a lineup — might be one of the country’s most powerful lawmakers.