Trumpworld Begged Him to Dump ‘Predator’ Lewandowski—and He Did
“I said to the [former] president you could use some distance from Corey and that he’s embarrassing you,” a source told The Daily Beast.
Since this past weekend, political allies and several of the ex-president’s MAGA buddies have gotten on the phone with Trump, gossiping about then-secret assault accusations leveled against Trump’s adviser and former 2016 campaign chief Corey Lewandowski, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
The message from these Trump pals was clear: Please get rid of Corey.
“I said to the [former] president you could use some distance from Corey and that he’s embarrassing you,” one of the sources relayed to The Daily Beast. “He should have let go of Corey years ago, so I don’t know if he will now.”
On Wednesday, the allegations became public. Politico reported that Lewandowski is accused by Trashelle Odom, a big donor to his own super PAC, of sexually assaulting her at a charity event this past weekend.
As a result, a number of Trump confidants also wanted the ex-president to wield his considerable influence to dethrone Lewandowski from running a pro-Trump super PAC. Lewandowski's top role at that super PAC was guaranteed and decided by Trump himself early this year.
As of Wednesday night, that wish was granted. Shortly after this story was initially published, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted that Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich had announced that MAGA star Pam Bondi was in, and Lewandowski was out, at the super PAC. “Corey Lewandowski will be going on to other endeavors and we very much want to thank him for his service. He will no longer be associated with Trump World,” the comment read.
Federal regulations prohibit candidates from coordinating directly with super PACs. Trump, even though he is no longer officially a candidate for office, has so far outwardly maintained a patina, at least, of distance from the super PAC and likely wouldn’t make any official statement axing (for the second time) his longtime aide. A loss of confidence or support from Trump, though, could easily force a resignation.
It’s unclear at the moment if the twice-impeached former president had made a decision on personally cutting off contact with Lewandowski. In the past, before and during his term in the White House, Trump has stood by and kept in close touch with Lewandowski, allegation after allegation, outrage after outrage. Since the dawn of the Trump presidency, there was rarely a figure in the then-president’s orbit who was as widely despised by fellow Trump associates as Lewandowski was and, quite frankly, still is.
Even by the routinely scandalous and prolifically corrupt norms of Trumpland, Lewandowski earned a reputation among numerous members of Trump’s administration, campaigns, social circles, and family for being a self-interested backstabber and a serial liar.
Various aides and counselors to Trump had long encouraged him and other conservatives to ditch Trump’s scandal-magnet adviser, but none of that advice truly stuck.
Now, Lewandowski’s enemies smell fresh blood.
In a statement provided to Politico, Odom, wife of Idaho-based developer John Odom, alleged that over the course of the night at the Las Vegas event, Lewandowski had “repeatedly touched me inappropriately, said vile and disgusting things to me, stalked me, and made me feel violated and fearful.” Lewandowski also bragged about the size of his genitalia and flashed his hotel room key, Odom’s lawyer said. Politico reported that four witnesses corroborated the events.
The report, citing people close to the Odoms, notes that the couple has given $100,000 to Lewandowski’s Trump-aligned super PAC, Make America Great Again Action. They have reportedly demanded a full refund if Lewandowski does not resign.
Lewandowski could not be reached for comment, and a Trump spokesperson did not respond to requests on Wednesday. Lewandowski attorney David Z. Chesnoff provided a statement dismissing the allegation as “accusations and rumors,” without further comment.
The super PAC’s financial reports only show one donation from the Odoms, a $60,000 gift in late June from John Odom’s company, HMH Construction LLC. It’s not clear whether the Odoms cut another $40,000 check sometime after Aug. 16, the latest date covered in the group’s filings with the Federal Election Commission.
To date, MAGA Action—which as a super PAC can accept money in unlimited amounts, including from corporations and “dark money” nonprofits—has received roughly $6.6 million, according to its filings with the FEC. Notable contributors include former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), who gave $250,000 at the end of June, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who coughed up $100,000 in May.
MAGA Action, which officially launched in May, has a mixed record under Lewandowski. The group put hundreds of thousands of dollars behind Trump-backed candidates in two congressional primaries this summer, in Texas and Ohio, winning only in Ohio.
Lewandowski has also been advising the congressional campaign for Matt Mowers, who is running as a Republican in Lewandowski’s home state of New Hampshire. A Mowers campaign spokesperson told Manchester station WMUR on Wednesday that Lewandowski only serves in a volunteer capacity. “We appreciate that Corey is lending his time and talents to our campaign, and we have no further comment,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Odom is the third woman to accuse Lewandowski of assault. In 2016, local authorities in Palm Beach charged the then-campaign manager with misdemeanor battery after then-Breitbart reporter, Michelle Fields, filed a police report alleging he had grabbed her at a Trump event. The charge was eventually dropped. In late 2017, singer and MAGA acolyte Joy Villa filed a police report alleging that Lewandowski had slapped her buttocks—an accusation Odom made as well. It’s unclear what came of Villa’s report.
A few months after Villa went public, the White House, in conversations with Republican allies on Capitol Hill, privately blamed Lewandowski for running a “smear campaign” alleging staff secretary Rob Porter had emotionally and physically abused two of his ex-wives.
Trashelle Odom’s press statement said, according to Politico, she had decided to come forward about Lewandowski because “he needs to be held accountable.”
“I am blessed to have a loving husband and family behind me,” the statement continued. “I want other women to know that you can be heard, too, and together we can stop terrible things like this from happening.”
Still, it would not be unheard of for the former president to keep Lewandowski in his orbit in another, potentially informal, capacity. After all, Trump has a long history of sticking by men who have been credibly accused of sexual harassment and worse.
Trump, himself, has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 26 women, with allegations on a spectrum from verbal harassment to infidelity to assault to rape, none of which got traction among his die-hard base. Two of those accusers—former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos and columnist E. Jean Carroll, who filed defamation suits after Trump denied their allegations of sexual assault and rape, respectively—may soon have their day in court. Judges in both cases recently ruled that the lawsuits can proceed.
And while Porter resigned after the reports of abuse surfaced, the White House still voiced support—as Trump has done for a number of friends, including Trump’s Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, former Alabama senatorial candidate Roy Moore, GOP megadonor Steve Wynn, and famous boxer Mike Tyson, all of whom have been accused of assaulting women.
For his part, Lewandowski, a divisive presence in Trumpland, has bounced back from a number of conflicts or disagreements with people in Trump’s orbit—including, for a time, the former president. In 2017, Trump offered his former top aide a job with the administration, which Lewandowski, as The Daily Beast reported, rejected, characterizing the position as “beneath him.” Three years later, Trump, in the final weeks of his term, appointed Lewandowski to a Pentagon advisory board, which President Joe Biden blocked in early February.
Lewandowski’s bridge-burning has carried over into MAGA Action. In August, The Daily Beast reported that his super-PAC appointment reflected larger rifts in Trumpland after the former president begrudgingly left office in January. Immediately following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that Trump instigated, Lewandowski was chief among a group of old friends still willing to proffer unconditional political support. (The rest of the power players in the GOP would later fall in line.)
Prior to the announcement of Lewandowski’s departure from the super PAC, one person close to the former president predicted that considering the history between the two MAGA stalwarts, Trump will likely “stick by Corey like he always has.”
“But good luck raising money into that super PAC, because no one will give money to [an alleged] sexual predator,” this person added.