Question: Why would anyone hire Lewandowski for “political consulting”? He was fired from Trump’s campaign this past summer because the operation needed to be “professionalized” and Corey evidently wasn’t the man to do that. He alienated so many people within Team Trump that Ivanka reportedly told her father either Lewandowski had to go or she would go. Just yesterday, Politico published a story detailing the Trump White House’s reluctance to let this guy anywhere near another position of real influence:
Kushner on Monday met with Lewandowski in New York to discuss possible posts, according to two sources familiar with the meeting. They said that Lewandowski will be presented with a range of options in the coming days — both in the White House and elsewhere in the administration. But they say that the job he coveted — senior adviser to the president — is not expected to be among them.
That’s at least partly because people around Trump have warned that Lewandowski’s penchant for bitter infighting and allegations of aggressive behavior — combined with his contentious relationships with Trump’s family and close confidants — could come back to haunt Trump’s White House as they did during his campaign.
“They want to find something for him, but it needs to be someplace where he can’t do too much damage,” said a GOP operative who advised the Trump campaign and transition effort and was briefed on White House staffing discussions. “The overall sense was that Corey is just not the governing type.”
He’s basically the Fredo of the Trump family. And no one hires Fredo to run their operation … unless they badly want a meeting with Don Corleone, in which case it pays to have Fredo as a friend. Voila: Introducing Avenue Strategies, a new consulting firm located at 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue for convenient access to the Oval Office. Having been frozen out of the prestige White House job he really wanted, Lewandowski has evidently decided instead to cash in. In a more honest world, the website for his new firm would feature minute-by-minute rates for face time with President Trump.
The Avenue Strategies website describes Lewandowski’s and Bennett’s close ties to Trump in sections detailing their professional histories.
Lewandowski and Bennett are launching their firm just as Republicans close to Trump are vowing to reduce the influence of lobbyists and consultants. That is something that Trump also promised. Through much of the campaign, he criticized Washington’s culture of political professionals making money in part because of their ties to prominent politicians.
“Draining the swamp is not just about lobbying and politicians, it’s also about consultants,” KellyAnne Conway, who ran Trump’s campaign, said during an interview on “The Laura Ingraham Show” radio program on Tuesday.
Oops. Lewandowski’s Avenue Strategies bio does indeed emphasize his work for Trump, noting that he’s “often cited as a visionary on understanding the moods and pulse of the American people.” What a bummer for the Trump children that Corey can openly advertise his influence peddling, with big bank sure to come, while they get hassled even for the most minor appearances of impropriety involving their charity work.
I wonder, in fact, if Corey and the kids won’t end up essentially competing with each other to build the most lucrative pay-for-play operation. With a more traditional president, a shop like Lewandowski’s would be one of the few avenues available to trade money for an “in” at the White House. With Trump, though, there are so many potential financial pipelines to him available that a special interest will need to think hard about which is the most effective. If you want to pitch Trump on your cause of choice and you have $250,000 allocated for the effort, whom do you throw that money at? Do you throw it at Lewandowski, counting on him to arrange a meeting? Do you spend the money instead at one of the Trump family businesses being managed by Eric and Donald Jr, knowing that Trump’s less likely to say no to his kids than to Corey? Do you apply the money to some sort of new business proposition involving Ivanka Trump, bearing in mind that she’s the favorite child? It stands to reason that the president will be more receptive to someone who’s enriching him and his family than to someone who’s enriching Corey Lewandowski.
The personal dynamics are risky for Lewandowski too. If the family holds a grudge against him, either because he’s siphoning off some of their “access” business or because this sort of obvious pay-to-play scheme is bad for Trump’s image, they could make it known around town that the president will frown on anyone who chooses to go through Corey’s firm instead of through family channels in seeking a meeting with the president. That would be bad news for the future of Avenue Strategies. Exit question: When do Christie, Giuliani, and the other freeze-outs from the administration follow Lewandowski’s lead and start their own “consulting firm”? Or can Chris Christie not get a meeting with Trump anymore if he wants one?
Update: As if things couldn’t get swampier:
Lewandowski's new firm is based at 1717 Pennsylvania Ave NW, the same building that the Trump transition office is based in.
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) December 21, 2016