What Trump Firing Corey Lewandowski May Mean for the Campaign

Lewandowski, who had a controversial run-in with a reporter, was fired.

ByCandace Smith and John Santucci
June 20, 2016, 8:03 PM

— -- On Monday morning, Donald Trump gathered with his Campaign Chair Paul Manafort, Trump’s children, and then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. By the end of the morning, Lewandowski would be escorted out of Trump Tower; the staffer who had been with Trump since his campaign’s nascence, now was out of a job.

His departure, according to sources within the campaign, was a “long time coming." Lewandowski had long feuded with Manafort; their aides both in private and public could barely contain their disdain for each other.

Minutes after the news of Lewandowski’s firing broke, Michael Caputo, an adviser and Manafort ally gleefully tweeted:


Caputo has since resigned.

Relations had been steadily growing more and more contentious; sources told ABC News that Lewandowski had been suspected of hatching a plot to leak malignant stories about Jared Kushner, husband to daughter Ivanka and a growing and powerful voice within the campaign. Lewandowski denied any such plan in interviews on Monday and told ABC News that he has a “great relationship” with Trump children, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump.

Staffers privately complained about Lewandowski meddling in campaign operations, making it difficult to complete tasks and hire more people. Sources within the campaign tell ABC News that the impetus to fire Lewandowski came from perhaps Trump’s most trusted advisors; his children.

The eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., admitted that all the children were of one accord when it came to the recommendation.

“I think it’s fair but in many respects he was coming to that on his own. We were there to help augment that and really think it through with him,” he told Bloomberg’s “With all Due Respect."

Trump also called the departure “amicable” and was confident that the campaign would move on.

“You have a campaign that’s transitioning, we’re going from candidate to presumptive nominee to actual nominee and I think there’s a great evolution in that,” he added.

In recent weeks, Trump’s poll numbers had lagged; he has placed behind Clinton in most recent national polls.

But senior aides stressed to ABC News that the firing was not in response to any recent events but had been a growing murmur for months. Lewandowski’s famous slogan, “Let Trump be Trump” is how he operated. Many within and outside the campaign long accused him of enabling some of Trump’s more divisive and controversial positions, including Trump’s remark that an American judge presiding over one of his cases couldn’t be impartial due to his “Mexican heritage.”

On Monday, Lewandowski stood behind those comments in an interview with CNN. “He's calling into question his ability to give a fair and honest assessment of the evidence which is presented to them and I think that's okay to do.”

Sources familiar with the decision tell ABC News that the decision to fire Lewandowski had been made over the weekend and that Monday’s meeting solidified it. It came as a surprise to many lower level staffers, man of who found out the news by reading and listening to news reports.

Lewandowski had traveled with Trump all this weekend, to campaign stops and fundraisers in Texas, Nevada, and Arizona.

With Lewadowski’s departure, many within the campaign are hopeful that Lewandowski’s departure means the campaign can move forward in hiring more staffers and constructing a ground game that can compete with that of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

One source tells ABC News that Manafort, who has essentially had control over the campaign since becoming its chair, will become the campaign manager.

Even some donors, a class Trump needs to woo to catch up with Clinton in funds, who were reluctant to accept Trump’s more bombastic rhetoric seemed relieved. “I think this move is viewed pretty positively,” one donor told ABC News, requesting anonymity to speak freely.

Lewandowski for so long had seemed untouchable; lasting through rumors of a short fuse and even being charged with simple battery for grabbing the arm of a Breitbart reporter in Jupiter, FL (the State’s Attorney declines to prosecute). Trump stood by him wholeheartedly, proclaiming Lewandowski’s innocence.

But now, it seems, Lewandowski’s luck has run out. He plans to return to his native New Hampshire where he will chair the New Hampshire delegation to this summer’s convention. As a delegate, he said he still plans to vote for Trump.

“I’m going to make sure that every delegate there votes for Trump and I’m going to do whatever I can to make sure he gets elected,” Lewandowski told ABC.

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