NEW YORK, June 20 (APP): In a surprise move, Donald Trump has dropped embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after months of internal tensions in his presidential campaign, as the presumptive Republican nominee struggled to pivot to the general election and his political operation became at times paralyzed by internal feuding.
The dismissal of Lewandowski, a Trump loyalist who chafed at
suggestions that the candidate become more presidential, was seen as an urgent effort to calm Trump’s allies, donors and Republican Party
officials who increasingly have been alarmed by a recent series of
missteps and dramas.
But the removal of Lewandowski, who made headlines for facing charges over forcefully grabbing a reporter’s arm at a campaign event, comes as Trump has fared poorly in a string of polls against Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.
The decision followed a series of meetings between the campaign’s
top hands aimed at quelling concerns about Trump’s trajectory.
Reports of tension between Lewandowski and campaign chairman Paul
Manafort have circulated since almost the moment the latter joined the
In a statement announcing the change, Trump’s campaign expressed its appreciation for Lewandowski’s work.
“The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic
record in the Republican Primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in a statement to The New York Times.
“The campaign is grateful to Corey for his hard work and dedication
and we wish him the best in the future.”
Barry Bennett, a senior Trump adviser, told Fox News moments after the news broke that “Paul [Manafort] is totally in charge” of the campaign now that Lewandowski is gone.
He added that while he doesn’t believe there will be wholesale changes,
he believes the campaign will be focused more on issues on the minds of everyday Americans.
Signs of the turmoil within Trump’s campaign were apparent even in the
wake of Lewandowski’s dismissal.
One top aide, Michael Caputo, tweeted “ding dong the witch is dead”
minutes after the news broke, celebrating Lewandowski’s ouster like the death of the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz.”
The change comes just weeks before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and amid new reports about anti-Trump forces looking to dump their presumptive nominee at the convention.
A spokesman for the New Hampshire Republican Party told The Hill that
Lewandowski is still a Trump delegate from the state, and that the only way for him to be replaced under state law is if Lewandowski told the state party he is unable to attend the convention.
The Trump campaign does not have the power to remove his delegate
Lewandowski, a Trump loyalist without major campaign experience,
repeatedly sparred with Manafort, a longtime insider who was brought on as the campaign looked to close the sale in the primary and pivot toward the general election.
The fighting was a manifestation of an internal tug-of-war between
two sides of Trump’s staff: loyalists who had been with the candidate
since the beginning of his campaign and more professional Washington insiders who want Trump to run a more conventional campaign.
One source familiar with the conversations and sympathetic to Manafort
said that “Manafort was spending about 20 per cent of his time dealing with Corey.”
While Lewandowski faced a swarm of criticism, both from inside and
outside of the campaign, Trump had made it his policy to stand by his man. Lewandowski appeared side-by-side with Trump during a rally soon after a former Brietbart News reporter accused him of grabbing her after a press conference.
Lewandowski was charged with battery related to the incident, but the
charges were eventually dropped.