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.”