Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski says someone on Trump’s staff should be sacked over the controversy swirling for the past 12 hours and more about Melania Trump’s RNC keynote speech.
“I know accountability in the Trump campaign. I know what it’s like to be fired from the Trump campaign. We know this, right?” he told CNN’s John Berman and Kate Bolduan.
Trump’s campaign snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last night, when Melania’s speech, for which she initially got high marks for her poise and delivery, suddenly turned into a plagiarism story after it was discovered a chunk of the speech was virtually identical to a portion of a speech First Lady Michelle Obama delivered at the 2008 DNC.
Lewandowski, last month, was famously escorted from Trump’s campaign HQ, though the candidate issued a statement that same day calling Lewandowski “a good guy, a friend of mine, but I think it’s time now for a different kind of campaign.” Shortly thereafter, Lewandowski was named a CNN contributor. In March, Trump vowed not to fire Lewandowski when the campaign chief became his own storyline after Breibart reporter Michelle Fields accused him of roughly grabbing her during a Trump rally.
This morning, Lewandowski speculated Trump’s wife had laid out her “vision” of what she had wanted to say to the American people and that a team had put the speech together. “Somebody, a staff person…should be held accountable,” he said. “I agree with [RNC chairman] Reince Priebus: whoever was the staff person who wrote the speech should be held accountable and should be fired.”
“When you do something that is so egregious that the story today is not how great Melania Trump was, and how successful this convention is going to be, but is because a staff person didn’t do their job properly, there absolutely has to be accountability. There’s accountability in everything we do. I’ve had that accountability. Somebody should be held to that same standard.”
According to the Washington Post, Lewandowski’s replacement Paul Manafort was charged with vetting all speeches from Trump’s camp.
“Someone at the senior level of this campaign has reviewed what Melania Trump was going to say and signed off on that,” Lewandowski said. “Whether they’re held responsible, cause the buck stops at the top, or the person who actually put those words to paper is held responsible, I think it’s shameful that Melania Trump who is such a great person. who represents her husband, and will represent this country as an amazingly as First Lady, is under this controversy because her staff didn’t do very well.”
Asked point-blank of the buck stops with the guy who replaced him, Lewandowski shot back, “Well, I can tell you when I was the campaign manager, the buck stopped with me, and I’m sitting here with CNN now.”
“When you’re the convention manger, you’re in charge of the convention, and there is no detail too small, particularly when you are looking at and scrutinizing the GOP nominee’s wife to give the largest speech in front of 35 million. There is no detail you should overlook.”
“Whoever signed off with the final sign off that allowed this to go forward, should be held accountable. If it was Paul Manafort, he should do the right thing and resign,” Lewandowski said.
Republican National Committee chairman Priebus said this morning, at a Bloomberg Politics breakfast, that he’d “probably” fire Melania Trump’s speechwriter if he were in Trump’s shoes.
But Manafort, meanwhile, told CBS this morning, “I don’t think Donald Trump feels that there’s anything to fire someone about,” insisting there’s nothing to see here, because no plagiarism occurred. “There were a few words on it, but they’re not words that were unique words,” he said.
Manafort also went with stout denial on CNN’s New Day: “[T]hese are common words and values and she cares about her family and things like that,” Manafort told Chris Cuomo, adding that the controversy was mere noise being ginned up by Hillary Clinton.
“[Melania Trump] was speaking in front of 35 million people last night; she knew that. To think that she would be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy,” Manafort said. “I mean, it’s so — I mean, this is, once again, an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, how she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work.”