Friday, April 28, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He refused to comment on revelations that his former campaign chair is literally selling meetings with him.

Corey Lewandowski was Trump's first campaign manager, and has since founded Washington East West Political Strategies, which appears to be an unregistered lobby shop. According to an article published today in Politico, the firm is advertising its abilities to arrange "meetings with well-established figures" including Trump and vice-president Mike Pence. Lewandowski is a frequent visitor to the West Wing and does indeed have direct access to Trump. This was confirmed for Politico by three senior administration officials, and by the fact that Lewandowski has already brokered one meeting--Trump's December meeting with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

Lewandowski was ousted from his campaign role in favor of Paul Manafort, who (like Trump's disgraced former national security advisor Michael Flynn) was recently forced to retroactively register as a foreign agent. In Manafort's case, it was because of evidence proving that he was being secretly paid by pro-Russia politicians in the Ukraine while part of the campaign. Lewandowski has not yet registered as a foreign lobbyist, although trying to sell meeting slots with the President of the United States to European clients is, by definition, working as the agent of a foreign principal.

The White House declined to comment today.

Why should anyone care about this?

  • Presidents should not allow their time or influence to be sold.
  • It's a bad sign when three of a president's own senior staff members cannot explain why an ex-campaign employee has such unfettered access.
  • When shocking allegations about a president are not true, the White House will usually not hesitate for a moment to go on the record with a denial.
  • At this point it is probably more reasonable to ask who in the Trump campaign wasn't acting as an undisclosed foreign agent.