(WASHINGTON) — Staff members in Donald Trump’s White House should be “fully supporting the president’s agenda” and should be fired for speaking to the press without authorization, according to Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.
“Any person who serves in this administration, whether it’s in the White House or in some other department, that isn’t fully supporting the president’s agenda, should not be there. It’s very simple,” Lewandowski said Thursday on ABC News’ Good Morning America.
Lewandowski’s comments come amid reports of increased tension among White House staffers after the appointment of a special counsel to lead the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“And if you don’t think that the president’s agenda is the right agenda, then you have the prerogative as a staff member to leave at your earliest convenience,” he said. “And [you] should be fired candidly if you’re speaking to the press outside of the course of the individuals who are authorized to speak to the press.”
Trump has reportedly been turning to old campaign advisors for advice as his White House deals with the fallout from the president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey last week. The existence of a memo Comey reportedly wrote after a February meeting with Trump at the White House came to light this week. Comey’s memo reportedly said Trump had asked him to drop the investigation into his former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s dealings with Russia.
Lewandowski, who was fired as Trump’s campaign manager in June 2016, said he went to the White House this week “only as a visitor,” but denied that he will formally join the Trump administration.
Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was assigned Wednesday by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to “oversee the previously-confirmed FBI investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and related matters.”
As special counsel, Mueller is expected to have the ability to take matters before a grand jury, issue subpoenas and assign federal agents to the case.
The White House had “absolutely no indication” the appointment was coming, a senior White House official told ABC News. White House Counsel Don McGahn personally delivered the news to Trump after receiving a call from Rosenstein. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who previously recused himself from issues pertaining to the election, was at the White House at the time, but it is unclear if he had any interaction with Trump.
A group of senior advisers, which included Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks and Director of Social Media Dan Scavino, convened with Trump at the White House after McGahn shared the development to formulate a response.
The White House released a statement from the president over two hours later.
“As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know — there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” the statement read. “I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country.”
Lewandowski declined to provide specifics on his interactions with Trump but described the president as focused on doing “the people’s business.”
“He has an aggressive agenda,” Lewandowski added.
When asked whether Trump understood the backlash his administration would receive with Comey’s firing, Lewandowski described Trump as having “the privilege” to fire the FBI director at his discretion.
“The president has the privilege of firing James Comey,” he said. “James Comey said that. And he decided that James Comey was no longer up for the task of being the director of the FBI. There is nothing wrong with that.”
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