Just hours after being fired as Donald Trump’s campaign manager last year, Corey Lewandowski was sitting down for an interview at CNN’s New York studios.
The interviewer, Dana Bash, repeatedly asked Lewandowski about the drama inside the campaign that led to his expulsion from the campaign, but he religiously avoided offering anything but praise for his former boss. Lewandowski told Bash he’d still do “everything I can to make sure” Trump is elected president.”If I can do that from inside the campaign, it’s a privilege,” the combative operative said. “If I can do that outside the campaign, that’s also a privilege.”That was June of 2016. A year later, Trump has been president for more than four months, and the 43-year-old Lewandowski is poised for a formal return to service for the president after never really leaving Trump’s side.”No one is more loyal to the president than Corey,” Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser who briefly operated a consulting firm with Lewandowski, told the Washington Examiner. “It is no surprise to me that the president places a high value on that and he should.”Lewandowski, a former cop and staffer for conservative grassroots organizer Americans for Prosperity, was practically unknown at the national level until Trump ran for president. But there he was on stage with Trump and his family in front of the cameras after the candidate won his first election — the 2016 Republican primary in New Hampshire, the state where his family lived.”Where is Corey?” Trump said in his New Hampshire victory speech. “Does Corey have a ground game or what? Boy, do we have a ground game.”Lewandowski, who was part of Trump’s skeletal staff at the outset of the race, made his share of enemies. Longtime Trump political adviser Roger Stone, one foe who clashed with Lewandowski, has publicly warned Trump against enlisting Lewandowski and another former campaign adviser, David Bossie, for new roles.”Like E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, these unsophisticates will get the president into trouble,” Stone said, referring to the so-called Watergate plumbers.Most infamously, Lewandowski found himself in legal trouble during the primary after he grabbed the arm of Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields at a campaign event at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. The March 2016 incident blew up in the media and overshadowed Trump’s campaigning. Ultimately, the Palm Beach County state attorney announced he wouldn’t pursue charges during a nationally televised news conference.Trump stood by Lewandowski during the episode, but two months later Lewandowski was gone after a power struggle with campaign chairman Paul Manafort and rumors he had fallen out of favor with Trump’s children.Just three days after Lewandowski was fired and escorted out of Trump Tower, he was on CNN’s payroll as a political commentator. But Lewandowski was routinely accused of being more committed to spinning for his former boss than offering insightful analysis of the race. At one point during the Republican convention in Cleveland, journalists watched as he took a call from Trump while on CNN’s set.”You know, Mr. Trump called to actually say thank you for the hard work that I put in for the campaign,” Lewandowski later recalled of that phone conversation. “And I obviously said thank you back, and I said congratulations.”Lewandowski remained with CNN through the election, resigning days after Trump’s victory as his name was being floated for a possible White House position. He didn’t get a White House job, so he started Avenue Strategies with Barry Bennett.The partnership lasted only a few months. After weeks of negative stories, including about Lewandowski offering face time to clients with people inside the Trump administration, it was announced in early May he would be leaving the firm, whose offices were just a stone’s throw away from the White House.Not long after that, Lewandowski’s name began surfacing again as rumors persisted of a possible staff shake-up at the White House. He hasn’t returned requests for comment about his future.After being seen wearing a suit at the White House over Memorial Day weekend, he went on television to praise and defend his former boss.”When you have a president who is so active, who is so articulate, who is so good at communicating with the media, sometimes you get staff who have to keep up with him,” Lewandowski said on Fox News.”It’s much easier, I think, if you ask people who had a pre-existing relationship to understand how the president functions.”