As the White House struggles to maintain message discipline with a compulsive tweeter in the Oval Office, whispers of Corey Lewandowski’s reemergence have senior Trump administration officials gnashing their teeth.
"It would be another trainwreck," one White House official told The Daily Beast, bluntly. "I'm dreading that it could even happen…though he'll probably be kept outside [the White House], it's looking like."
In recent weeks, President Donald Trump has been strongly considering signing on campaign aides David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski as war-room “crisis managers” to assist in grappling with the Russia-related fallout and mounting scandals. The president has discussed either placing the two Republican operatives at an outside, allied entity, or within the West Wing itself.
Lewandowski—Trump’s combative one-time campaign manager and chief enabler who was fired from the campaign after bruising a female reporter—is expected to amplify and encourage, not curtail, the president’s more aggressive and uncouth instincts, if he lands a White House gig. He would “only add to the toxicity of the White House,” predicted a senior administration official and former Trump campaign aide.
Lewandowski and Bossie did not respond to requests for comment on this story. Neither did the White House comms shop. Officials spoke on the condition of anonymity so as to speak freely.
No formal announcement has been made yet, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Tuesday that “the president is very pleased with his team.”
Officials suggested it is more likely that Lewandowski lands at a parallel communications operation designed to push back against waves of bad press that have consumed the White House since Trump was inaugurated. Axios reported on Tuesday that the White House is considering bringing on Bossie and Lewandowski “as part of an outside-inside duet.”
Furthermore, Lewandowski has privately gossiped for weeks that his White House job was imminent, as The Daily Beast reported last week.
“I highly doubt Corey will be actually inside the White House. Just don’t see it happening,” the official who served on Trump’s campaign predicted. Absent such an appointment, though, “he will definitely play an outside role.”
That official, and others who spoke with The Daily Beast, expressed sentiments on Lewandowski’s potential involvement with White House strategy that ranged from fear over the baggage he would bring with him, to relief that, with his deeper involvement apparently a foregone conclusion, he will likely be officially insulated from White House operations.
“Word is he won’t be in the White House proper. More of a shadow adviser,” one official noted. “When, not if, he does something crazy, there’ll at least be a degree of separation.”
Still, the very possibility of Lewandowski being back at Trump’s side was enough to set off alarms among top brass in the West Wing and Trump administration.
"I gagged when I [first] heard that," a senior Trump aide told The Daily Beast. "[Corey] will not be an asset in the West Wing. He would be a hothead in a [White House] that needs the opposite."
Since the campaign, Lewandowski has made his fair share of enemies within Trump’s inner circle, especially chief of staff Reince Priebus, who Lewandowski casually trash-talks about in private. Other close Trump aides, such as his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, object to Lewandowski’s style and temperament. The former Trump campaign manager is also openly loathed by Trump’s longtime political adviser Roger Stone, who calls Lewandowski a “cocksucker.”
Bossie, for his part, “frequently clashed with Mr. Priebus,” according to The New York Times, and his tendency to clash with GOP bigwigs is one reason he didn’t land a West Wing and top RNC position immediately following the presidential transition.
However, senior officials’ comments about Lewandowski were a departure from their assessments of Bossie, whom one described as a more capable political operator.
“I give Bossie more credit than Corey. He knows how to play the game and [is] a bit more pragmatic,” one official said. “Corey is more contentious.”
Reports of the duo’s potential official return to the Trumpian fold signal a reversion on Trump’s part to a style and an accompanying team of advisers that produced the president’s last tangible, high-profile victory: his election last November.
“This signals he’s going back to campaign style,” the senior administration official and former Trump campaign aide said of the resignation of White House communications director Mike Dubke, which was announced on Tuesday.
The February hiring of Dubke, with his more mainstream Republican background, was an olive branch from Team Trump to the party establishment. But his tenure atop the White House’s communications team lasted a mere three months.
A statement on his resignation by Priebus left open the possibility that Dubke, who did not respond to questions about his departure, could get involved with third-party efforts to advance the White House’s communications or policy agendas. Dubke, Priebus said, will “be a strong advocate for the President and the President's policies moving forward."