Corey Lewandowski to Trump White House: ‘I’m Coming In.’
Could the Trump campaign’s original troublemaker be on his way into the White House? That’s what Corey Lewandowski wants some Trump insiders to believe.
According to six sources familiar with his discussions in and around the Trump administration, Lewandowski has been privately pitching himself as the perfect candidate to join the White House as President Trump weighs a potential staff reboot amid recent scandals.
According to a longtime GOP operative who requested anonymity so as to speak freely, Lewandowski boasted in conversation in recent days that Trump was ready to bring him officially back into the fold.
“Trump wants me there [in the White House], just you wait,” Lewandowski told this person and others, according to the operative. Another Republican source said they have very recently spoken to administration officials who say “Corey is going around telling people” that he is a shoo-in for a Trump staff reboot.
Accounts of Lewandowski privately gossiping that he’s on his way to the Trump White House are not entirely without merit. On Monday night, Politico reported that Trump “personally reached out to” to Lewandowski and David Bossie, another former top campaign aide, to discuss helping the Trump administration as “crisis managers.” Politico noted that no official announcement is expected before the president returns from his foreign trip and that it is not clear whether any hired “crisis managers” will be working directly out of the White House.
Lewandowski, along with former campaign communications director Jason Miller and former deputy campaign manager Bossie, went to the White House earlier this month for what one source familiar with the appointments called “freewheeling conversation.”
“Corey did say to two of them, ‘I’m coming in,’” a source, who spoke with two White House officials after Lewandowski’s meeting last week, told The Daily Beast. “That was taken to mean ‘I’m coming into the White House.’”
On Thursday, Lewandowski appeared on Good Morning America and seemed to call out people in the administration—without naming names.
“Any person who serves in this administration—whether it’s in the White House or in some other department—that isn’t fully supporting the president’s agenda should not be there. It’s very simple,” Lewandowski said. He went on to criticize people leaking information to the press about the goings-on in the tumultuous White House.
“And if you don’t think that the president’s agenda is the right agenda, then you have the prerogative as a staff member to leave at your earliest convenience,” Lewandowski said. “And you should be fired, candidly, if you’re speaking to the press outside of the course of the individuals who are authorized to speak to the press.”
Lewandowski’s continued presence in Trump’s political orbit shows the lasting influence of the brash, hotheaded adviser—someone who was such a magnet for bad press and controversy that he was booted from leading the Trump campaign almost a full year ago. Now, with Trump pining for the glory days of his campaign as his presidency weathers chaotic week after week, Lewandowski is increasingly looking to Trump like the one who got away.
Another Republican source claiming familiarity with Lewandowski’s recent deliberations told The Daily Beast, “He’s acting like he’s already inside.”
“But he learned his lesson from the transition when he quit his lucrative gig at CNN all confident he was headed to the White House, bragging about it,” the source continued. “He burned himself then and was very publicly embarrassed. He’s more cautious about a ‘done deal’ today but still appearing quite confident.”
Several sources told The Daily Beast that the hurdle for Lewandowski to get into the White House would not be with the president but rather with those around him, who are leery of his influence due to his high-profile firing from the 2016 campaign.
White House officials who spoke to The Daily Beast about Lewandowski’s chances were skeptical, to put it generously. “You never know with [Trump], but reinstalling Corey to anything [in the West Wing] is a pipe dream and wishful thinking at best… at least at the moment,” one official said.
“I am certain Corey is trying to get into the White House,” a source outside the administration told The Daily Beast. “I am equally certain the guardians of that galaxy have set their phasers on kill.”
Reached by phone on Friday afternoon, Lewandowski himself denied any suggestion that he was telling people he was angling for a gig in the Trump White House.
“Nope, no job, no discussions, man, thanks so much,” Lewandowski told The Daily Beast, before abruptly hanging up, saying he had to “go grab my kids.”
In the midst of a possible staff shakeup, other previous Trump affiliates have also come into the mix as potential, and some longshot, candidates.
“I’m friends with many of them and I see them frequently, so it comes up every now and again,” Katrina Pierson, former spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, told The Daily Beast. White House press secretary Sean Spicer previously told The Daily Beast that Pierson turned down a White House deputy press secretary position earlier this year, opting for a job at the pro-Trump nonprofit America First Policies.
“He’s doing a good job,” Pierson said of Spicer, who along with chief strategist Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus is often reported as being on-and-off Trump’s chopping block. “It’s not as easy as people think. Especially with all the hostility and being aware that the majority of reporters aren’t interested in reporting the actual news makes it that much more difficult.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment about Lewandowski, but a gig in the federal government could be a welcome change of pace and fortune for Trump’s one-time campaign chief.
Lewandowski recently stepped down from Avenue Strategies, a consulting and lobbying firm he co-founded in December with Barry Bennett, a GOP operative and Trump campaign adviser. He blamed Bennett and other managers at the firm, telling GQ that they had used his name without his consent and signed clients he had not approved.
One of those clients, health technology startup Flow Health, described a rocky relationship with Lewandowski’s firm over the three months it did business with the firm. In an interview with The Daily Beast this month, Alex Meshkin, the company’s CEO, portrayed an amateurish operation that promised big and delivered little.
Flow Health wanted to restart a data-sharing agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs that had been canceled in December, the result, Meshkin says, of retaliation against the company over its claims the VA was exaggerating the size of a genomic database under its control. The VA denies any retaliation and says it canceled the agreement over medical privacy concerns.
Lewandowski’s firm seemed like just the type of sophisticated, connected operation the company needed to reverse that decision, Meshkin says, so he was surprised when the firm sent him a consulting contract copied directly from LawDepot.com. “Our in-house general counsel is like, ‘Are we really going to do this deal?’” Meshkin said. They did the deal, but months later, Flow Health had nothing to show for it.
Flow Health didn’t end up signing the LawDepot.com-generated contract. Indeed, Flow Health and Avenue Strategies never inked a contract at all.
“We were working together in some form or fashion” despite the lack of a signed agreement, Meshkin said. But after three months with little to show for the $50,000 that Flow Health had paid Lewandowski’s firm, their relationship ended. “We just said forget it,” Meshkin recalled. “There’s nothing to terminate. There’s no signed agreement.”
The experience left him wondering about the merits of Trump world’s supposed mastery of the new Washington. “All these people attached to Trump that are peddling influence, how much of that information actually makes it into the White House?” Meshkin wondered aloud.
As Lewandowski would tell it, his influence and relationships might just be strong enough to get the president to take him back.