Lewandowski may lead White House impeachment team
Corey Lewandowski, the political operative who helped elect Donald Trump, has had conversations with White House officials in recent days about potentially taking a position inside the administration to help the President confront a looming impeachment fight.
The discussions, including a Thursday afternoon meeting at the White House, reflect the growing recognition among Trump’s allies and advisers that he is without a clear strategy for managing the crisis, which exploded in stunning fashion this week, according to multiple people familiar with the talks.
Trump’s 2016 campaign manager would be in a crisis management type role, and the idea as it currently stands would be for Lewandowski to assemble a team that mirrors the one that existed in Bill Clinton’s White House when he was facing his own impeachment.
The list of potential players on the team includes David Bossie, his former deputy campaign manager who angered the President earlier this year by soliciting funds using Trump’s name. Bossie served as the chief investigator of the Republican-led House Oversight Committee in 1997, helping scrutinize Clinton.
“As I have done for the last five years, I will continue to serve the President in any capacity he thinks I can be most helpful. However, I have not spoken directly to the President about leading an effort to push back on the fake impeachment narrative,” Lewandowski told CNN.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham denied that an impeachment response team is in the works.
“Despite what CNN clearly hopes to be true, there are no plans to form an impeachment response team. If your sourcing is so ‘strong,’ at least one of them would have the courage to say it on the record. You don’t have even one person on the record because it’s just not true,” Grisham said.
Lewandowski, who was fired midway through Trump’s campaign, remains close to the President and is a regularly guest aboard Air Force One and at the White House. His presence in Trump’s inner circle is controversial, however, given his loudly proclaimed view of letting “Trump be Trump” instead of attempting to apply discipline to the freewheeling president. Lewandowski has also chafed at times with some members of Trump’s family.
He also came under fire during a recent appearance in front of the House Judiciary Committee when he publicly admitted lying to the press, sparking an audible reaction in the room when he said: “I have no obligation to be honest with the media because they’re just as dishonest as anyone else.”
Lewandowski also teased a rumored New Hampshire US Senate bid, recently tweeting: “New website just launched to help a potential senate run. Sign up now!” he said, alongside a link to what appeared to be a super PAC.”
The response team would be to help spearhead strategy and messaging as the House of Representatives’ impeachment probe heats up. The role could also exist outside the White House, and many of the details of the arrangement are still unclear.
CNN reported earlier Thursday that some people close to Trump believe he is in denial about the gravity of his predicament, and it is still not clear whether the President is ready to acknowledge he needs such a team.
But several of his advisers have expressed concern that Trump’s team appears without a strategy as a long-anticipated impeachment proceeding becomes a reality.
Several allies have made the case for standing up a dedicated team to handle the matter — realizing how dire impeachment is and how hard it would be for a typical White House political and press shop to keep up. The White House legal team has expressed confidence in facing such a probe, but the rest of ranks of the White House are widely seen as depleted.
The White House is considering bringing other officials in as well, though some aides are pushing back on the need for such a team, claiming those who are already there are well-equipped to face off with Democrats.
During the last US impeachment proceedings, Clinton retained a personal legal team both to help combat perjury and obstruction of justice charges and to help mold public perceptions of the case.
A key difference, however, is Clinton had already been reelected when the charges were levied. Trump will face the impeachment process at the same time he is gearing up for another presidential campaign, lending the matter more political weight.