Donald Trump fired his first campaign manager Corey Lewandowski last year for reasons which were never officially spelled out. Trump publicly stood by Lewandowski even as he was discarding him, and at the time the move was widely believed to have been a result of general campaign ineptitude and bad poll numbers. However, a new detail has arisen which may shed additional light on the situation, particularly within the context of Trump’s deepening Russia scandal.
Here’s the timeline as we now know it: in mid June of 2016, Donald Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page requested approval to travel to Russia and give a speech in Moscow. His direct campaign supervisor, J.D. Gordon, urged him not to do go on the trip. But the decision ultimately fell to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who signed off on it, under the condition that Page not attend in his capacity as a campaign adviser (source: Politico). Days later, on June 20th, Lewandowski was fired.
Page then traveled to Moscow and gave his speech on July 7th. As we reported earlier this week, activity from the alleged Russian email server inside Trump Tower spiked while Page was in Moscow, suggesting it had been set up to communicate with him. That email server was shut down on September 23rd, and Page resigned from the Trump campaign just three days later. Then a FISA warrant for that email server was allegedly granted in October.
Page also now admits he met with the Russian Ambassador at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in late July, less than two weeks after his Moscow speech. In hindsight, Carter Page appears to have played a key role in the Donald Trump campaign’s covert communications and collaboration with Russia. Page’s publicly visible speech in Moscow during the campaign was a mistake which brought public and media scrutiny to the campaign’s Russian connections. It was a speech which any competent campaign manager would not have approved.
And yet it’s now known that Corey Lewandowski signed off on Page’s Moscow trip less than a week before he was fired. Was this foolish decision the straw that broke the camel’s back and got Lewandowski fired? Or is it evidence that Lewandowski truly didn’t know about the campaign’s Russian collusion, and didn’t realize that Page’s speech was a bad idea?
It’s worth noting that Page still made the trip even after Lewandowski was fired. By that time Paul Manafort had taken over as campaign manager, and made no move to stop Page’s trip. But it still stands out as potentially relevant that one of Corey Lewandowski’s last decisions before getting fired was to sign off on a Page speech which arguably set the current Trump-Russia investigation in motion.
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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report