President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager has resigned from the Washington influence firm he founded just after the election.
Corey Lewandowski says he was troubled by recent reports about firm-related projects that he says he had not sanctioned. Other people tied to his Avenue Strategies firm started a firm of their own and had pitched Eastern European clients with promises of access to Trump and high-ranking White House officials. Politico reported on that recently and also reported that Lewandowski’s now-former partner, Barry Bennett, had inked a deal without him to lobby on behalf of Citgo.
“The revelation that people I had never met are trading on my name is problematic for me,” Lewandowski said.
Lewandowski, who liked to show off the views of the White House from his Washington office window, resigned Thursday, a move first reported by Bloomberg News.
Bennett said he has already shuttered the newer firm, Washington East West Political Strategies, which he said friends of his had launched without his final approval. He added that Avenue Strategies is continuing its work and that without Lewandowski “hopefully we will stop being in the news so much.”
“He too big of a target to be involved in a lobbying firm,” Bennett said. “Everyone is always going to accuse him of cheating.”
While Lewandowski had not registered as a lobbyist, Bennett has.
Lewandowski says he is unsure what he will do next. “When one door closes, another usually opens,” he said.
He had risen from political obscurity to oversee the celebrity businessman’s rise to the brink of the Republican nomination, but he also became a flashpoint for campaign in-fighting.
Lewandowski was a little-known New Hampshire operative when Trump hired him at first sight early in 2015 to run his as yet-unannounced campaign. Lewandowski, a close-cropped, sharp-elbowed figure, was the most fervid believer in the strategy to “Let Trump be Trump,” unleashing the businessman to upend the Republican primaries by using his larger-than-life personality to summon raucous rallies and dominate media attention.
But Lewandowski generated the wrong kind of headlines in March 2016 when he was charged with misdemeanor battery for an altercation involving a female reporter after a news conference in Florida. The charges were later dropped.
Soon after that, Trump brought in Paul Manafort, a veteran Republican national operative, and relations between his more seasoned group and the rag-tag original campaign staff grew toxic, with both camps sniping at each other in closed-door meetings and in the press. A short time later, an effort by Trump’s adult children—and his powerful son-in-law Jared Kushner—led to Lewandowski’s dismissal.
But Lewandowski still spoke to Trump and was a regular at the candidate’s New Hampshire campaign rallies. He continued to tout his access to the president after Trump took office.