For the last three months, former Donald Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski has worked as an analyst for CNN — while still drawing a salary from Team Trump, apparently without disclosing the payments. The campaign and Lewandowski characterized it as “severance,” but the internal description of the payouts listed the purpose as “strategy consulting,” which makes it appear as though Lewandowski still worked for the campaign the entire time. When all of this emerged last week, thanks to quarterly FEC reports, CNN insisted that Lewandowski would still appear on air as a paid analyst, prompting an eruption of criticism. Team Trump also said they’d continue to pay him.
That was then … this is now. Today, CNN went out of its way to let viewers know that the Trump income has ended:
CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota made the announcement on Thursday morning.
“In previous appearances we have told you that Corey was still receiving severance from the Trump campaign,” Camerota said as she introduced Lewandowski for a segment. “That is no longer the case we are told. Are you done with those payments?”
“Amazing, everything comes to an end,” Lewandowski said, joking that “40 days” before the election, this was news.
“I didn’t think those would run out,” Camerota said.
Did CNN lay down the law? According to Politico’s Hadas Gold, no — the Trump campaign stopped the payments, because the connection became a “distraction.” If so, then Trump and his team did CNN a big, big favor, because the biggest problem wasn’t that the campaign had a media figure as a consultant — it was that a media outlet had a paid campaign consultant as a paid analyst on the same race.
This doesn’t actually let either Team Trump or CNN entirely off the hook, though. Have the payments actually “come to an end,” or are they just suspended until after the election? More to the point, is Lewandowski still acting as a consultant to the campaign, paid or not, while getting paid to provide analysis on CNN?