Trump, Obama 90 Minute Meeting Was Supposed to be 15 Minutes

President Obama hosted President-elect Donald Trump at the White House, along with his staff and their administration counterparts Thursday in a historic meeting between the two former adversaries.

While the president met with Trump, First Lady Michelle Obama was busy hosting the future First Lady Melania Trump in the residence portion of the White House.

One very interesting tidbit is that Trump was accompanied by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who met with current White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Could Kushner be up for the top staff job in the west wing?

Trump has not announced his White House staff appointments, although Corey Lewandowski is  pushing hard for the chief of staff job. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is also in the running, according to a Washington Post report.

During the 90 minute meeting, President Obama and Trump discussed a variety of issues. From Fox News:

President Obama tells reporters after his meeting with President-elect Donald Trump they had an “excellent” and “wide-ranging” conversation.

“We talked about foreign policy, we talked about domestic policy,” he said.

Obama said it’s important to “come together” to face common challenges.

Trump said they were only planning to meet briefly but met for an hour-and-a-half and it could have gone longer.

“I very much look forward to dealing with the president,” Trump said. He said they had never met before today.

A meeting that went over an hour longer than scheduled could indicate that the two men enjoyed each other’s company–or at least were able to establish a rapport–more than their campaign rhetoric would suggest.

Trump spent 16 months on the campaign trail calling Obama “a disaster” and the president responded by categorically calling Trump unfit for office. But now the two, and their administrations, will need to work together to ensure a smooth transition.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence met with Vice President Biden. Both Pence and Trump will be meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan today. Pence will also meet with Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It is unclear whether Trump will attend that meeting.

So far, so good.

Both CNN and Fox News commentators remarked that Trump’s body language betrayed his sense of a bit of humbling and awe at the Oval Office surroundings. I’m just glad that the vitriol is over, and we can get into the business of moving toward a new administration.

There will be plenty of time to hurl criticism and invective. But for now, like most Americans, I’m just tired of the campaign and glad it’s done. Hopefully, the will of those college students who took time off from their studies to aimlessly wander the streets and chant for or against things about which they know precisely nothing will fade soon.

Another Trump Campaign Shake-Up Is Right On Schedule

Campaign shakeups are more the rule than the exception for Donald Trump. “I’m the strategist,” he told Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine back in April when Trump was barreling toward the GOP nomination.

The coffee klatch that makes up Trump’s inner circle consists of himself, his kids, and his in-laws. The others in the Trump orbit: Corey Lewandowski, Lewandowski’s former Citizens United boss David Bossie, media crossovers Roger Ailes and Stephen Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and political warhorse Paul Manafort, seem to drift in and out of positions, but never really leave the “organization.”

In fact, management shakeups seem to be baked-in, part of the Trump campaign culture.

trump-turnoverIn the military, specialists pulled from various permanent units to form a temporary group for a specific purpose is called a “tiger team.” I was on one in the 90’s (a Site Activation Task Force, or SATAF). Trump’s entire campaign is really a tiger team.

But it’s not the kind of team designed for a political campaign. It’s a media show, spin control, keep Donald in the headlines operation. If this was the military, Trump’s unit would be the Dirty Dozen, complete with Telly Savalas as the insane woman-hating killer ready to blow the entire operation.

If you look at the timeline, you see how changes at the “top” (if there really is a top to speak of) of Trump’s campaign follow sort of a rhythm. From June 2015 through the end of March 2016, Trump stuck with Corey Lewandowski, who was more of a body man than a campaign manager. Only when it became likely that Trump could be the nominee did Paul Manafort come on board to wrangle delegates and appease the GOP powers-that-be (read: Reince Priebus).

After standing behind Lewandowski out of loyalty, about a month before the GOP convention, Trump fired him. It was said to be due to complaints from the rank-and-file (such as there is one) and from Trump’s true decision-makers: his kids. But Lewandowski never truly left. He picked up a lucrative gig at CNN and from there continued to pump for his old boss. Now he’s listening in on campaign conference calls and offering advice–but he’s not with the boss 24/7 like before.

After the convention, Paul Manafort was no longer an asset, as he was vulnerable to Clinton attacks on his Russian connections. So Roger Ailes–after being booted from Fox News in a sexual harassment scandal–was brought on as a formal advisor (he had been an informal advisor for months). Stephen Bannon, chairman of pro-Trump Breitbart News, was hired as campaign chair, leaving Manafort no role, and Manafort resigned on August 19. On the same day, pollster Kellyanne Conway, who came on board in early July, was elevated to campaign manager (Lewandowski’s old title).

Confusing? It’s supposed to be.

Then on September 1, David Bossie, who originally recommended Lewandowski, joined as deputy campaign manager. That brings us to today.

Various media reports are starting to emerge that after Monday’s debate “disaster,” that Trump’s kids are ready to play another round of campaign roulette.


Not everything is “very happy” according to Tur’s sources.

This seems to have struck a nerve in the media-obsessed world of Trump.

Words like “fabricated lie”–as opposed to repeated lie, or true lie perhaps?–generally surface when the report in question is closer to the truth than Trump and his family would like.

With Trump’s businesses and brand reportedly suffering due to his negatives, another shake-up is probably inevitable. Once daddy Trump gets in his mind that things are rather stable, or stagnant, his compulsion to create news kicks in.

Since the pair Conway/Bossie seems to be in favor, look for them to survive the next purge. Ailes and Bannon may find themselves with a pink slip, however. Bannon encourages the more inflammatory side of Trump that plays great to his base, but repels swing voters. The next debate is Sunday, October 9. Somewhere between today and then, look for another Trump management musical chair session.

The campaign strategist-in-chief does not suffer being out of the news cycle for long.

Corey Lewandowski Returns To Trump. Sort Of. Bless His Heart

Corey is fired. Corey is hired by CNN. Corey is back. Sort of.

Even in exile, Lewandowski maintained a close relationship with Trump. But in recent weeks, with the absence of a leadership team actively committed to boxing him out, he has reengaged with the operation more broadly, listening in on morning conference calls and conferring regularly with campaign CEO Stephen Bannon and deputy campaign manager David Bossie — an old friend who persuaded Trump to hire Lewandowski last year — according to Republicans close to the campaign.

Donald Trump is notoriously loyal to those who are loyal to him (to a point). But this is a win-win deal for everyone. Trump doesn’t have to pay Lewandowski, for starters. Trump’s closest advisers, his kids, are happy because they don’t have to deal with his influence as much.

Lewandowski fans among the campaign staff still have him to bounce ideas around, and those who hate him (a larger group, by all accounts) can ignore him.

Following Manafort’s departure, the time for a Lewandowski resurgence was ripe. After a summer marked by unforced errors, reports that Trump has one eye on a post-campaign media venture and a general sense of dismay, even staffers who clashed with their old boss were beginning to feel pangs of Lewandowski nostalgia set in.

“He was an a–hole,” said one former staffer, expressing the sentiment of colleagues who remain on the campaign. “But at least you know he wanted to win.”

And let’s not forget that CNN is giving Corey valuable experience in media, so that when if Trump loses in November, he can surge back as a media mogul, with Lewandowski playing a major role.

Though he’s technically a CNN contributor, making him a (very) quasi-journalist, if you look at Lewandowski’s Twitter timeline, you wouldn’t know it.

In his new role on CNN, Lewandowski got really defensive Tuesday when Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek claimed Trump’s conflicts of interest would compromise his presidency. He got into an on-air tiff with Alisyn Camerota:

“This is the same individual who said that he has information that George W. Bush was directly related to the 9/11 terrorist attack. This is the same individual who refused to fact-check this story with the Trump Organization,” he said.

“He has zero credibility,” Lewandowski continued. “It is a point of credibility. He has said that George W. Bush was directly involved with 9/11. He has no credibility.”

Camerota and Christine Quinn quickly defended Bush (in order to defend Eichenwald, who was attacking Trump), who Trump himself attacked on 9/11, resulting in a somewhat absurd inverted argument.

I guess for Corey, old habits die hard, like the urge to defend Donald Trump from the least criticism, no matter how ridiculous it makes him look.

Bless his heart.

BREAKING: Trump Sacks Lewandowski

Donald Trump’s campaign has announced it is formally parting with its now-former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

“The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,” the campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said in a statement. “The campaign is grateful to Corey for his hard work and dedication and we wish him the best in the future.”

The reward for all who bow before the Orange Throne is the same: Dinner, bed, and goodbye.

Honestly, I am surprised this didn’t happen earlier. But good riddance.

Lewandowski Demoted to Dog on a Leash

Being Donald Trump’s confidante and hatchet man has its benefits, but ultimately, Zod’s mercy is sufficient unto itself, Corey Lewandowski has learned.

Just 2 weeks ago, New York Magazine featured a relaxed and confident Lewandowski lounging by the pool at Mar-a-Lago.

Lewandowski didn’t appear to be worried about his job. He was kicking back in a Trump-brand golf shirt, drinking a 16-ounce Monster energy drink, and chatting with deputy campaign manager Michael Glassner, a former Bob Dole adviser, who at age 52 has been seen as the campaign’s grown-up.

Ahh, how nice it is to have the favor of the boss.

[Trump] hired Lewandowski thinking that the 42-year-old operative had two crucial assets: his Koch connections and an intimate knowledge of New Hampshire’s quirky political terrain. The first assumption was wrong, but on the second, Lewandowski proved his worth. And he gained Trump’s trust by demonstrating he possessed the quality Trump values most: loyalty. “This campaign, above all other things, is about loyalty,” Lewandowski said. In what’s been said to be a unique arrangement for a campaign manager, Lewandowski travels everywhere with Trump, a role normally reserved for the campaign’s “body man.”

And now, that’s exactly what Lewandowski is–and all he is–the body man. CBS News confirmed Monday that the former campaign manager is now just a dog on a leash.

Paul Manafort, hired last week to be the convention manager, will now run the Trump campaign, with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski reduced to a role that amounts to body man and scheduler.

The number of staffers directly reporting to Lewandowski has also been dramatically reduced under the new structure, CBS News’ Sopan Deb reports.

Manafort moved all of Lewandowski’s personal minions to Rick Wiley, who came over from Scott Walker’s campaign after bleeding it dry. This caused national field director Stuart Jolly to resign.

Jolly, the sources said, was almost universally disliked by Trump state operatives who found him amateurish, arrogant and substandard. But he had been hired by Lewandowski, whom he’s been close to for many years, and his departure in a row with Wiley further highlights the shifting power structure within Trump’s senior campaign management.

But Trump only hires the best people.

Wiley’s effect on the Trump campaign can be immediately seen.

Trump will start spending substantially more money than he has since he started his campaign, with some $20 million for advertising in the big states in May and June.

Of course, it’s much harder to spend a billionaire dry than it was Walker, whose campaign never really got the traction it needed in the crowded field.

These are actually all good, needed things for the Trump campaign, which, if successful, will have pulled off the most massive pivot from reality-show fodder to professional campaign organization, in modern political history.

Then again, Trump is the master of bluster and Pyrrhic victories. Think of the USFL. Trump won, and beat the NFL in court. The league got a $3 judgement ($1 and triple damages). Zod moved on. It’s much more likely that Lewandowski, like Christie (“the plane’s over there”), Carson, Huckabee, Palin, and everyone else he’s used and discarded, will have nothing to show for his loyalty except bruised knees.

Donald Trump’s Good People Are The Best (Not)

Donald J. Trump likes to brag about knowing good people, who are the best, and whom he will hire to help solve the nation’s problems if he is elected president. When asked about policy specifics, the ever-vague Trump eventually resorts to his “good people” line instead of talking details and substance. Since Donald Trump wants the American public – and the media – to trust his judgment in people, and since Trump (rightfully, if evasively) equates policy with personnel, it is worth looking at who Trump has surrounded himself with on the campaign trail.

Of all the people Trump consults on policy and political matters, the one who stands above the rest is Donald Trump. In March, Trump told MSNBC that he is his own number one foreign policy adviser and that he frequently speaks with himself on such matters. “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things,” Trump confidently asserted before confiding that “my primary consultant is myself and I have a good instinct for this stuff.”

On the campaign trail in Wisconsin, Trump told young voters “You’ll find that when you become very successful, the people that you will like best are the people that are less successful than you.” Sounds like somebody doesn’t really like surrounding himself with successful, smart people are good and are the best. “Always be around unsuccessful people because everybody will respect you,” Trump suggested as a recipe for greatness.

Perhaps his candid moment explaining his human resources strategy explains why Trump has surrounded himself with a truly unbelievable cast of characters including Corey Lewandowski. Trump’s campaign manager is at best a bully, and while he won’t face any legal headaches for a physical dustup with a female reporter, Lewandowski’s history of volatility towards co-workers and professional associates was apparently legendary prior to his job as the conductor of the Trump campaign.

Katrina Pearson is Trump’s campaign spokesperson, and back in January Leon Wolf at RedState dug up a gem of an e-mail Pearson once sent to Erick Erickson (she misspelled his name) fuming about an editorial written by Gov. Rick Perry. The incident long pre-dated her time on the Trump campaign, but raises a few questions about her competence. More recently, Pearson demonstrated her historical illiteracy by doubling down on Trump campaign rhetoric comparing the Cruz campaign to the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police responsible for numerous atrocities, killings, and human rights abuses prior to and during World War II.

Roger Stone, a “master of political dirty tricks” according to Politico, was fired from the Trump campaign in August 2015 despite his long and close relationship with the candidate. But his formal departure hasn’t meant that Stone has stopped working for his buddy. His latest “strategy” to help Trump at the Republican National Convention in Ohio this summer is to threaten the release of hotel addresses for each delegate who may dare to oppose Trump. A 2008 profile of Stone in The New Yorker captures Stone’s bottom feeding tactics and sleazy lifestyle quite well.

The latest addition to the Trump team is Rick Wiley, a Republican operative who is now best known for wrecking Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential hopes this cycle. Under Wiley’s leadership, Walker’s cash-flush campaign managed to burn through money so quickly that the two-term governor dropped out of the race roughly two months after formally announcing his candidacy. Wiley dismissed his extravagant ways saying, “We didn’t have a spending problem. We had a revenue problem.” Shortly after the Walker campaign ended, Wiley – in a shameless act of self-preservation – gushed to Politico that his job had been hard because the candidate was someone who needed a lot of help to get ready for the national stage. The bottom line in Rick Wiley’s mind: He was the victim of an unprepared candidate.

Trump is absolutely correct when he draws a correlation between the people an executive hires and the quality of work an organization does. Looking at his track record just over the course of this campaign, the vague “good ideas” that are going to magically emanate from the great folks the Donald hires are a mirage and a fantasy.

Florida Prosecutor Avoids Lewandowski Circus But He Did Grab Her

Can you imagine the circus if Corey Lewandowski went to trial for simple battery–even a bench trial? It would be a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money, media time, and the public’s appetite for stupidity.

Chief assistant State Attorney Adrienne Ellis and her boss State Attorney Dave Aronberg made a good call on the facts, the law, and the politics by declining to file charges. But at the same time, the facts show that Lewandowski did grab Michelle Fields’ arm.

What the facts of the case don’t show is how much of a jackass Lewandowski is–possibly the biggest jackass in the history of jackasses since King David sent Uriah to his death after impregnating his wife Bathsheba.

If only he’d made the apology like 10 minutes after the event, this would not have been news. Fields would have her job, and Breitbart would be able to pretend it has journalistic standards.

Yet the jackass parade of Branch Trumpidians goes on.



Trump’s Campaign Is In Disarray But He Hires The Best People

CNN is reporting that Donald Trump’s campaign is facing internal strife in light of recent changes.

Lewandowski last week fired Trump’s Colorado state director, James Baker, just ahead of this weekend’s state convention, where Cruz is expected to do very well. A source confirmed to CNN that the reason for the firing, first reported by Politico, was that Baker was working too closely with Manafort. (Baker did not respond to requests for comment on the firing.)

Campaign sources say Lewandowski’s role is clearly being diminished. “Manafort has really kind of taken over, and started reorganizing the campaign,” a knowledgeable GOP source said.

Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks disputed the reasoning behind the firing and said Lewandowski had no role in the dismissal.

The power struggle, however, is a delicate one.

Trump is still viewed as being fiercely loyal to Lewandowski, sources say. And Trump himself has said he’s not going to “ruin a man’s life” over allegations that Lewandowski roughed up former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields at a campaign event in Florida last month. Lewandowski was charged with simple battery last week and the campaign insists he will be exonerated in court.

Paul Manafort is Trump’s new delegate wrangler (very late in the game) and campaign muscle. This guy has done more to promote depotism than Attila the Hun.

Over a 40-year career as a lobbyist and political consultant, Manafort and his firms have advised, in no particular order, a business group tied to Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator of the Philippines; Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted Ukranian president and Putin ally; and Lynden Pindling, the former Bahamian prime minister who was accused of ties to drug traffickers.

He also worked for butcher Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire. He’s just the guy to help Trump bully his way into Cleveland. Manafort is a professional bully, while Lewandowski is an amateur. There’s probably not room for both of them in Trump’s carefully-managed orbit.

But Trump always hires the “best people, the smartest people.”