In Campaign Shake Up, Donald Trump Fires Campaign Manager

A campaign shake up at Trump Tower, but it's unlikely to change fundamentals.

Trump Apprentice
Corey Lewandowski, the controversial campaign manager who led Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign as it disposed of sixteen Republican rivals and won the Republican nomination for President, has been dismissed from the Trump campaign in a move that seems to have come as a surprise to even many of the other workers on the campaign itself:

Donald J. Trump has fired his divisive campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, a move that comes as the presumptive Republican nominee faces challenges as he heads into the general election.

Mr. Lewandowski could not immediately be reached for comment about his departure, which was announced by the campaign.

“The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,” the campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said in a statement. “The campaign is grateful to Corey for his hard work and dedication and we wish him the best in the future.”

With the Republican National Convention looming next month, Mr. Trump is facing the task of broadening his team to include people with previous presidential campaign experience. Mr. Trump also has been turning his attention to fund-raising for the first time, a task that Mr. Lewandowski had assumed oversight of and one that has gone slowly for the campaign. The campaign has aired no ads in the general election and there has been no “super PAC” that received a clear public blessing from Mr. Trump and his top advisers.

The loss of Mr. Lewandowski was intended as part of a larger shift toward the final sprint of the race, according to those briefed on the matter.

Mr. Trump had faced increasing concerns from allies and donors, as well as his children, about the next phase of the campaign. It is a move that could reassure donors and Republicans more broadly that he can adjust toward a November election strategy.

Two people briefed on the move, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Lewandowski was fired.

The campaign manager was seen as having a hostile relationship with many members of the national press corps who cover Mr. Trump, and many officials at the Republican National Committee had strained relationships with him.

And Mr. Lewandowski was often at odds with Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Paul Manafort, who was brought on in March when the candidate seemed poised for a lengthy fight over delegates.

Mr. Lewandowski was said to have resisted certain moves that would have increased the number of staff members, at times blocking Mr. Manafort from making hires or later undoing them.

But the people briefed on Mr. Lewandowski’s departure said that the circumstances went well beyond any particular episode or any particular relationship. Mr. Lewandowski had a penchant for making headlines about himself that overshadowed his boss, including being charged with misdemeanor battery, a charge later dropped, after he was accused of grabbing a reporter as she approached Mr. Trump with a question in Jupiter, Fla., on March 8, a night when the candidate won three of four Republican state primary votes.

One person stressed that the move had been in the works for many weeks, particularly since it became clear that Mr. Trump would be the nominee. The person added said that the campaign is now focusing on bringing the party together, including hiring new staff members and adjusting to the race against Hillary Clinton. And there had been a desire for many weeks to make changes ahead of the Republican National Convention, July 18-21 in Cleveland.

Given the trouble that the Trump campaign has been having of late, it is, I suppose, no surprise that there would be a shakeup and that Lewandowski would be the one who lost out on whatever internal battles may be going on over at Trump Tower. It was Lewandowski, after all, who was not too long ago given the responsibility of coordinating the campaign with Republican National Committee and calming whatever tensions might exist between Trump and both the RNC and Republican office holders. What we’ve seen instead is a wide swath of Republicans distancing themselves from Trump to the point where it is seemingly becoming a stampede. In reality, it’s hard to see what Lewandowski could have done given the fact that most of these defections were based on things that the candidate was saying himself, whether it was seemingly racist statements about the Judge presiding over the Trump University case or Trump’s decision to renew his call for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States. It is this rhetoric, along with everything that Trump has said in the past, that has been responsible for the GOP rejection of the Trump campaign, although admittedly Trump’s historically atrocious polling numbers haven’t helped the situation. Of course, the fact that Lewandowski may not have been directly responsible for any of this doesn’t really matter. In politics there’s always a sacrificial lamb in these sorts of situations, and Lewandowski’s history with the campaign was already controversial enough, mostly notably in connection with the battery charge against journalist Michelle Fields, then a reporter for Breitbart, for which Lewandsowski was formally charged before the prosecutor decided not to proceed with the case. Additionally, it has been widely reported that Trump’s family, principally Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, had been pushing Trump to fire the campaign manager for some time now. Given that, Lewandowski’s fate was likely sealed long ago and it was just a matter of time before he was let go.

Shaking up a campaign that has manifested the kind of trouble that Trump’s has is hardly unusual. It happens all the time at all levels of politics, including the Presidential level. A shake up like this at this point in the race isn’t a sign of a healthy campaign of course, but whatever the timing might be it’s often the only option a campaign in crisis has to both reset the direction of the campaign itself and attempt to regain the confidence of Republican insiders who see nothing but cratering poll numbers and a lack of the money needed to run an effective campaign going forward. As Chris Cillizza notes, though, it’s unlikely to get to the heart of the problems with Trump’s campaign:

Here’s the problem as I see it:  Trump is the campaign manager, chief strategist, lead organizer and every other senior role within the campaign. (Yes, Lewandowski “managed” the campaign but only in the sense that he executed things that Trump asked him to do.  ”Campaign implementer” is a more accurate title for what Lewandowski did.)

The only way Trump’s campaign changes in any meaningful way then is if Trump himself changes.  He’s rhetorically flicked at the idea of becoming “more presidential” and insisted that if he is elected president he will act with much more gravitas. But, Trump keeps making that promise — remember how he said he was going to be more presidential once he won the primary? — and not keeping it.

Why? Because people don’t change. Especially very successful people who are 70 years old.

Firing Lewandowski is totally meaningless unless, in getting rid of his alter ego, Trump finally makes those long promised changes in how he behaves — both toward those in his own party and on the issues facing the country. It’s hard to imagine.

Cillizza is right, of course. In the end, the problems with Donald Trump’s campaign are attributable to Trump himself and they go to his personality and the things that he says. Trump clearly believes that following his instincts is what won him the nomination. That’s why he’s acting the same way he did then, and it’s unlikely that he’s going to recognize or admit that he’s wrong. It’s hard to believe that Trump will change either his behavior or his rhetoric and as long as that’s the case it’s hard to believe his campaign is going to change in any significant way.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mu says:

    Trump will hire 10 recent college graduates as apprentice campaign manager, the winner will be announced in a 1h special Nov 9th.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    It’s worse than that. He’s in a trap. If he moderates he doesn’t get his rallies and he doesn’t get free media. And he’s got no money and no prospect of raising any, so he needs free media. And now all the free media is about his sinking poll numbers, his various frauds, the discord in the GOP and his lack of money.

    I’m getting too happy. I don’t do well with happiness. Must go work.

  3. CSK says:

    @Mu:

    It might be amusing to hear him yell “You’re fired!” at all ten of them.

  4. Jc says:

    Trump has to go to people and kiss the ring so to speak to get money for his campaign. That is so not Trump. I am sure he hates even the idea of having to go to someone else for money. He has no problem doing the events where people come out and adore him and laugh and bow to every lame brained thing he says, but no way he wants to go shake hands, meet donors, field questions and do the real campaigning required of every prior GOP nominee. Let’s see what happens next

  5. James Pearce says:

    Lewandowski was only one of the Trump campaign’s many problems.

    I love this, though:

    The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican primary having received almost 14 million votes

    That may be a historic record, and it may be wise to point that out. I mean, 14 million votes? That’s a lot of people.

    And yet, in a country of 300+ million people, it’s not that impressive. Over 30 million people watched Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Now that was historic.

  6. C. Clavin says:

    @Jc:

    I am sure he hates even the idea of having to go to someone else for money.

    And those folks who have the money aren’t dupes like Jenos and JKB…fawning over his every word…they are going to ask serious questions about serious issues…questions Trump has no answers for…because dupes like Jenos and JKB don’t care about those answers, only their emotions.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    @Jc: What really strikes me is how all seat-of-the-pants this is. All these zig-zags as results of the guff coming out of Trump’s mouth, or in an order to cover up the guff coming out of Trump’s mouth. There’s no self-control, no planning or strategy whatsoever. Trump has managed to string out many months of “success” due to the media gawking at him like a 50-vehicle tractor-trailer pile-up and–let’s face it–the abysmal performance put in by his rivals–but there’s little cash left in the kitty, the RNC is getting cold feet at helping Trump with anything (the screeds of “RINO!” over at the WSJ squirrel food holders is…epic) and…?

    I honestly can’t predict what will happen next.

  8. CSK says:

    The latest rumbling is that Ivanka delivered her father an ultimatum: If Corey didn’t go, she’d go.

  9. Jc says:

    @grumpy realist: Exactly. And this is how he runs a campaign, never mind the executive branch of the government. How can you proclaim to be this great businessman/leader and not even be able run and fund a normal campaign and handle the normal day to day requirements of one? It is embarrassing.

  10. CSK says:

    @Jc:

    But he’s not a great businessman. He surrounds himself with yes men and yes women. He’s had four bankruptcies. His attempts at branding have been abysmal failures. The retail price of Trump Vodka was $100 back when all the other premium brands (most of them still doing business) was around 18–20 bucks.
    This is the guy who put the Eastern Airlines shuttle (Boston-NY-DC) out of business. You have to be dazzlingly inept to accomplish that. He wanted to put gold fixtures in the bathrooms and gold fixtures on the plane doors. No aeronautical engineer could convince him of the fact (which should be glaringly obvious even to non-aeronautical engineers) that eliminating needless weight is essential to getting an aircraft off the ground.

  11. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Dog bites man…. If one can consider Lewandowski human that is.

  12. Mister Bluster says:

    In politics there’s always a sacrificial lamb in these sorts of situations,..

    Forgive me.
    I am diseased.
    Why else would this remind me of the scene in the 1972 Classic Deliverance featuring Bill Mckinney and Ned Beatty.

    Mountain Man: I bet you can squeal like a pig. Weeeeeeee!
    Bobby: Weee!
    Mountain Man: Weeeeeeee!
    Bobby: Weee!

  13. Grumpy Realist says:

    @CSK: oh, it was worse than that. He originally wanted to line the planes with marble.

    I kid you not.

  14. Jenos Idanian says:

    Apparently not worth noting here is a guy last week who was stopped by police while trying to assassinate Trump…

  15. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian: And? I’m sure that as soon as Hillary Clinton gets elected POTUS we’re going to see similar nut jobs from the MRA groups taking potshots at her.

    Just because some idiot decides to try to assassinate a presidential candidate does not indicate anything at all about the intelligence, suitability, or saintliness of said presidential candidate. I’m surprised that you think differently.

    Or actually, not all that surprised at all…..

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian: It also looks like the would-be assassin may be British. (I guess now we’re going to “shut down all immigration from the U.K. until we can figure things out”?)

    I don’t see what you can glean from this except that nuts will be nuts.

  17. grumpy realist says:

    Speaking of loopy…..

    I’m sorry, but I’m putting this in the “I was a sex slave for the CIA and was forced to be a hooker for Roswell aliens” mentality bin. Sincerity is no guarantee of truth.

  18. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jenos Idanian: You DO get points for not bringing up any gun nut points in the case of an assassin who was so loopy that he didn’t even bring a gun instead trying to steal the sheriff deputy’s. But you had no comment on the LEOs gun not being secured in its holster so that a passerby could not grab it and try to shoot someone.

    @ grumpy: I am SOOOOO with you on that stopping entry from the UK. Two incidents in two days. Something needs to be checked out for sure!

  19. Jenos Idanian says:

    @grumpy realist: And? I’m sure that as soon as Hillary Clinton gets elected POTUS we’re going to see similar nut jobs from the MRA groups taking potshots at her.

    And that would be very, very, very wrong.

    Pity you can’t bring yourself to say that about an attempt to kill Trump, but I’m used to that from my alleged “moral superiors” around here.

  20. Jenos Idanian says:

    @grumpy realist: Yes, the would-be assassin was British. And an illegal alien who had overstayed his visa.

    But that’s right, you don’t see any difference between legal and illegal aliens, do you? A subtle, nuanced distinction that only people on the right can draw. So I won’t bother explaining the difference to you.

  21. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Oooh, Little Jenos is the only one moral enough to be against assassinations. Truly you are our superior in every way. No wonder you worship the manly bigness of The Trump.

  22. Jenos Idanian says:

    @wr: Called it. Totally called it.

    1 down, 582 to go.

  23. Jenos Idanian says:

    @wr: You really ought to talk to someone about your homophobia. I would rather not hear about you shooting up a gay nightclub or something…

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Which is why this whole thing about that big YUUUGE wall stopping illegal aliens is just ridiculous. Isn’t it something like 40% who come in via standard tourist visa and overstay?

    And you’re interested in putting in the sort of policing system that will go door to door tracking down illegal aliens, hmmm?

    Yeah, I always figured you would be one of those “your papers, plz!” guys….

  25. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Wow. Guess you had to deliver pizzas to all sorts of bad neighborhoods last night.

  26. An Interested Party says:

    But that’s right, you don’t see any difference between legal and illegal aliens, do you?

    Actually, that would be Trump, with his call for a ban on all Muslims entering the country…perhaps you should take up the nuances with him…

  27. grumpy realist says:

    @Jc: Oh, you have to read this…..

    It’s getting even more hilarious. An ad agency called Draper Sterling?

  28. cian says:

    @Jc:

    How can you proclaim to be this great businessman/leader and not even be able run and fund a normal campaign and handle the normal day to day requirements of one? It is embarrassing.

    No matter how many chickens are flying around, I would strongly advise not counting them just yet. My guess is that over the next few weeks Trump’s campaign team will take control and we’ll see less and less of Trump in unscripted moments. The media being what it is will start to run with their ‘pivot’ and ‘Trump begins to sound more presidential’ stories. That will add a few more points to his numbers allowing the media to now talk about the gap closing, and pretty soon, before we know it, they’re neck and neck. Don’t forget RCP’s poll of polls average has it as Clinton by just 5.8%. And all this before Hillary has what every nominee eventually has, a truly awful week filled with bad news stories, miss-steps and gaffes.

    The stake maybe poised over his heart (or that thing he has shaped like a heart) but it hasn’t been driven in yet.

  29. KM says:

    @cian:

    My guess is that over the next few weeks Trump’s campaign team will take control and we’ll see less and less of Trump in unscripted moments.

    This requires him to stay on script and do what he’s told. He can’t. For the life of him, he CAN’T. Bless their hearts, his team will try and maybe have some minor successes. But the tiger can’t change their stripes and he WILL go rogue REPEATEDLY. I cannot imagine the stress that is walking the tightrope of assuaging Donald’s ego and attention-whoreness while telling him what to do without looking like you’re telling him what to do. Where can I send a bottle of Pepcid and a bottle of Jack for these foolhardy souls?

    There is no controlling Trump. This is a fantasy that keeps coming up to comfort people that this isn’t as bad as it seems. He’s been a walking train wreck for decades, thinks he’s Honey Badger incarnate but now that he’s a heartbeat away from control over nukes, he can be “handled”? Nope. He is who he is. If he could be worked with, he would have been already.