- As President Donald Trump’s relationship with his top handler, chief of staff John Kelly, disintegrates, some familiar faces are making their way back into the president’s inner circle.
- Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s controversial former campaign manager, is increasingly in the president’s ear and by his side.
- Sources close to the administration say Lewandowski’s loyalty to the president could win him a spot in the White House, but some say Lewandowski’s influence would be damaging.
As President Donald Trump’s relationship with his top handler, chief of staff John Kelly, disintegrates, some familiar faces are making their way back into the president’s inner circle.
Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who was fired mid-campaign in an internal power struggle, is increasingly in the president’s ear and by his side. The controversial former aide has remained close with the president since the campaign, making frequent visits to the Oval Office, travelling on Air Force One, and establishing himself as one of Trump’s favourite media “warriors.”
Recently, he’s joined the vice president at rallies across the country promoting the president’s tax law. And last weekend, Lewandowski travelled with Trump to a rally in Michigan, where the president called him up on stage.
“Speaking of not being a patsy or a pushover, you ever watch Corey Lewandowski on the shows?” Trump told the crowd. “Where’s Corey? Corey!”
Lewandowski, joined by David Bossie, president of the conservative advocacy group Citizens United and Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, thanked Michigan for supporting their “next” president.
“This is Trump country,” he said to cheers. “We love you, Michigan.”
The Michigan appearance has ignited talk in conservative circles of Lewandowski’s resurgent influence, particularly on the midterm campaign trail. Some speculate he may be angling for a White House role.
“It’s even money that Corey is going to join the administration,” a former Trump campaign official close to the administration told Business Insider.
Trump has long considered Lewandowski, who is openly critical of Kelly, as one of his most loyal aides.
“Corey has been a loyal and steadfast supporter, and the President values that highly when making personnel decisions,” Chris Ruddy, the CEO of conservative Newsmax Media and a Trump confidant, told Business Insider in an email, adding that he avoids speaking with Trump about personnel issues.
Lewandowski’s free-wheeling “let Trump be Trump” approach to managing the president stands in stark contrast with Kelly’s more disciplined style and might be what the president craves six months from the beginning of his reelection bid.
“If there’s anybody who can break china, and be disruptive, exemplify the president himself, I think Corey is that. He is that disruptive force,” the former campaign official said.
‘The man is a train wreck’
Lewandowski is deeply controversial within the president’s inner circle. It was reportedly Trump’s children, led by Ivanka, who pushed the campaign manager off the team. And some think Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, wouldn’t stand for Lewandowski in the White House.
“That would be an epic disaster, and I suspect Ivanka and Jared agree,” Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist, told Business Insider in an email. “Loyalty is a fine quality, but it is not enough to be White House Chief of Staff.”
Lewandowski would also likely have difficulty passing an FBI background check and obtaining the top security clearance necessary to work at the highest levels of the White House.
Since Trump took office, Lewandowski has founded a series of Washington lobbying firms, despite not registering as a lobbyist, and has faced accusations of selling access to the president and senior members of the administration, The New York Times reported.
The former Trump campaign official joked that Lewandowski is stoking rumours that he’s on his way into the White House so he can “hike up his lobbying fees.”
Lewandowski did not respond to a request for comment.
Lewandowski also has a sketchy history with women. During the campaign, he was charged with misdemeanour battery for grabbing a female reporter by the arm at a campaign event. (The charges were later dropped.)
And late last year, Joy Villa, a singer and outspoken Trump supporter, accused Lewandowski of slapping her twice on her behind without her consent. Villa, who said Lewandowski joked that he couldn’t be punished for sexual harassment because he works in the “private sector,” called the experience “completely demeaning and shocking.”
“Between public intoxication, charges of sexual harassment and his continued lobbying without registering the man is a train wreck,” a former top Trump adviser told Business Insider via text message. “Perhaps the president finds his thuggery amusing.”
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