CNN contributor and former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has “reengaged with” Trump’s presidential campaign “more broadly” in recent weeks, according to a new Politico report, providing yet more evidence that CNN’s contract with him is an ethical nightmare that must end.
Since Lewandowski was hired by CNN in June, media ethicists and journalists have strongly condemned CNN's decision repeatedly. Lewandowski is still on the Trump campaign payroll, and CNN anchors frequently introduce him by noting that he continues to receive severance from his former employer. He reportedly speaks to Trump “almost every day” and has even traveled with the campaign. He has also been reportedly helping Trump prepare for the presidential debates. It is because of these extensive ethical breaches that CNN should cut ties with Lewandowski.
According to a September 14 Politico report, Lewandowski “has reengaged with [Trump’s] operation more broadly, listening in on morning conference calls and conferring regularly with campaign CEO Stephen Bannon and deputy campaign manager David Bossie.” According to the report, “critics see a conflict of interest between Lewandowski’s engagement with the campaign and his new gig as a paid commentator on CNN.” The piece quotes an “activist involved in the campaign” who claims that Lewandowski “‘is doing his job as a CNN correspondent to get insider information just like anyone in the journalism business’” and that “‘Corey’s a journalist now.’” From the report:
Lewandowski was fired as Trump’s campaign manager in June after manhandling a reporter and in the face of concerns that he encouraged the candidate’s reckless statements. He was effectively replaced by Paul Manafort, his chief rival in Trump’s orbit, who himself resigned under fire on Aug. 19.
Lewandowski declined to comment.
But now, with the departure of Manafort and the installation of a regime much friendlier to him, Lewandowski’s engagement with the Trump campaign appears to once again be on the rise, not just in the swing state of New Hampshire but also nationally.
Even in exile, Lewandowski maintained a close relationship with Trump. But in recent weeks, with the absence of a leadership team actively committed to boxing him out, he has reengaged with the operation more broadly, listening in on morning conference calls and conferring regularly with campaign CEO Stephen Bannon and deputy campaign manager David Bossie — an old friend who persuaded Trump to hire Lewandowski last year — according to Republicans close to the campaign.
The Trump campaign emphasizes that Lewandowski has no decision-making authority, and those who work with Lewandowski describe his role as informal and advisory. “He weighs in particularly on issues that involve Trump directly,” said an activist involved in the campaign. “Where he should be going and not going. What he should comment on and not comment on.”
While critics see a conflict of interest between Lewandowski’s engagement with the campaign and his new gig as a paid commentator on CNN, the activist, at least, took the opposite view. “Corey is doing his job as a CNN correspondent to get insider information just like anyone in the journalism business,” said the activist. “Corey’s a journalist now.” A CNN spokeswoman declined to comment.
In early September, not long after the meeting with Biundo, a state-level campaign official said he was warned that Lewandowski was listening in on the regular morning conference call that includes communications and political staffers.
“His name is popping up more and more and more,” said a Republican official who works with the campaign. “He was not around, and then all of a sudden he was around again.”