Former Trump campaign officials Corey Lewandowksi and David Bossie on Monday told their version of Paul Manafort’s hiring and firing by the Trump campaign.
According to Lewandowksi and Bossie — who at one point served as Trump’s campaign manager and deputy campaign manager, respectively — Manafort’s start on the campaign was marked by turmoil, after press secretary Hope Hicks turned down all Sunday show interview requests one weekend at his suggestion. Lewandowski recorded what he said was Trump’s response in two phone calls:
“Did you say I shouldn’t be on TV on Sunday??” Manafort could barely hear him because of the helicopter motor. But Trump said, “I’ll go on TV anytime I goddamn fucking want and you won’t say another fucking word about me! Tone it down? I wanna turn it up! I don’t wanna tone anything down! I played along with your delegate charts, but I have had enough.”
“You’re a political pro? Let me tell you something. I’m a pro at life. I’ve been around a time or two. I know guys like you, with your hair and your skin…”
Manafort, who took Lewandowski’s title as campaign manager in June 2016 after serving as an adviser to Trump, ultimately left the campaign after reports of his financial relationship with the political party of the pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych. He and his deputy, Rick Gates, pleaded not guilty on Oct. 30 to several charges, including money laundering and unregistered lobbying, as part of Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Lewandowski and Bossie’s account came in a book excerpt in Politico: “Let Trump Be Trump,” “the ultimate behind-the-scenes account” of how Trump won his shocking 2016 victory, is out now.
From Manafort’s start on the campaign, his mutual grudge with Lewandowksi was well-known.
The second excerpt shared with Politico details Manafort’s departure from the campaign, which occurred after two stories of his deep ties to Ukrainian political clients: First, that a secret ledger from Yanukovych’s political party showed $12.7 million in payments to Manafort, and then, a separate report that Manafort and Gates had done unregistered lobbying work for the same party.
Lewandowski and Bossie recorded two telling reactions from Manafort to the news of the secret ledger payments.
“It’s all lies,” Manafort told Steve Bannon shortly before the New York Times published its reporting, according to the book. “My lawyers are fighting it.”
He also reportedly said: “It was a long time ago […] I had expenses.”
After the story of unregistered lobbying work broke, according to the excerpt, Trump said: “Tell Jared to fire him.” Manafort protested, according to Lewandowski and Bossie — “It will make me look guilty” — but, according to the new book, “Jared told him there wasn’t much that could be done. A press release was going out in 60 seconds.”