DiscoverThe Axe Files with David AxelrodEp. 123 - Corey Lewandowski

Ep. 123 - Corey Lewandowski

Update: 2017-02-20


Corey Lewandowski, the campaign manager to Donald Trump throughout the Republican primary, talks with David Axelrod about the career he led prior to becoming a figure in national politics, his response to reports alleging that Trump campaign officials were in constant communication during the presidential campaign with suspected Russian officials, and how the Trump White House can reset and move past its turbulent first month.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

the board for the acts files comes from rockin' mortgage my Quicken loans lift the burden of getting a home loan with rockin' mortgage and get a secure transparent home loan approval in minutes skip the bank of the waiting then go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files This podcast is brought you by sixty DB listen to conversations that go beyond the headlines business sports politics today's news plus all of your favorite podcasts download the free sixty DB at Today the the the and now from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN The X Files with your host David Axelrod the the if you follow the two thousand and sixteen presidential campaign closely then you surely Cory Lou and our ski and probably have a strong opinion of the tempestuous loyal campaign manager of Donald Trump helped lead him to the Republican nomination and then was unceremoniously dumped he did a little TV commentary and CNN after that but remained a confidant of Mr. Trump then and now it is a measure of the controversy surrounding this present people around him that quarries presence at the Institute of Politics last week a engendered some protests but also gave students there an opportunity to hear about his experiences in the Trump campaign and to question him closely about the new president and his policies I had a chance to sit down with them as well and here's that conversation the story ruined as key good to see again welcome we spent a lot of time across desks together at at CNN obviously there's a lot to talk about going on right now but before we do I want to just get a sense of your your own journey you are so shot through a cannon in the last few years and weren't particularly before that where this all start for you you know a lot of people don't know much about me that's okay I'm okay with that I have had a very remarkable life call a guy grew up in a blue collar town a little Massachusetts and shoes is that what they make their textile textile yeah Paul Tsongas Ray Lomas very close live to live in the nice neighborhood I live in a poor neighborhood which is okay and Marty of other Ed McMahon lols pretty famous place for some place for somethings and Ed McMahon from Ed McMahon from the site shown no fuel Massachusetts a group of working class environment and my grandfather the union printer for forty years and when when did your You Your Family Pride came over from Europe that some from Canada came down from Canada so very fortunate to six generation American from the case that French Canadians and my mother still speaks french my grandparents all spoke French course in the house do you speak French I don't I took it for a long time in college and high school but there are certain to make parts of your party where you could be expelled you know for speaking French so if you keep it on the down low I won't tell anybody okay but I don't know language skills I like many other people am I was fortunate to go to undergraduate school and want to study politics went to grad school studied American government and a long story short Tom Cable just just just back up what was lol was lol like what would have lol kind of imprint itself on you and shape your sense of the world lols tough town he knows a tough town it was an element of public schools like everybody else did and he is a place where growing up I don't think people realize they were rich right but nobody was rich it din matter is of the town still is a town where people value hard work and you know my grandparents lived about fifteen houses up the street from us and so every weekend all of us my cousins everybody would go their house and university money because we have the money with your folks to name only a single mom my dad left was a kid and I was in high school and so you know everybody can have a nice brother to brother who's active duty Marine so as a Colonel in the Marine Corps and from six seven years old we deliver newspapers everyday to make some money in the wings which allow cars in driveways like everybody else to do is what everybody did and pitched in to help the neighbors and had no money go to college very fortunate to get a small scholarship to university mess chisel and I made it through college after a tougher semester like so many others that may be in the club I didn't really study as much as I should of but don't happen if the first Mr. College was one of my work in a dairy farm in upstate New York hard working people and you end up doing that I was dating a girl whose family had a place at the end of town the college I'm too good for this and I walked away and went to this dairy farm and twice a day every day seven days a week milked a cow was tough work of these casual workers I mean Date It didn't rain sleet snow sick healthy Christmas and I did that for about two months I said to get back to college and learn something and I didn't went back and try to really good professor who who took an interest in me and me back engage in Iowa graduating fairly well and went on to graduate school than in DC an American at American University a master's degree down there and you did an internship I read in the Massachusetts Statehouse which is if you all about politics at an interesting place to go and you're you you're the rep you intern for was a Democrat right from your area so he's a Democrat say rough lol there were no Republicans on Republicans will write but you know the thing about him and he very few Democrats are very few Republicans in messages eschews his name was Steve Page attack is and he went on to become I knew that I read his name but I was hoping you would say yes to iOS eight became a state senator and served as the chair the Ways Means Committee but you believe in fiscal responsibility and that's you know that's what the Democratic Party was for a long time in Massachusetts socially more liberal but fiscally very responsible and I in turn for Steve and his great great relationship I had and he really got me excited about being involved in politics and campaigned for at the time those the state rep and John Cox a Democrat from Massachusetts way out when campaign for I was seven ten twelve years old campaigning with my friends going door to door and I was invigorated by and yet you know this or we find something actually love doing it's not really working so I was to have no tangible skills into politics and it rattle whole bunch of other things in this rocking back and keep coming back to Sue went down to Washington when did you sort of make the move to the Republican Party I went to I interned for what was the last Republican from Massachusetts is Amos pewter tokens in Congress in nineteen ninety six and I in turn form and Peter lost his reelection campaign in ninety six by the three hundred and sixty one votes I remember the most is the camp and the congressional staff took a leave of absence starting on Halloween night before the elections for five days before the election drove up to Massachusetts to campaign and we get up there in the campaign manager who I never meant to look race is over going to win feel free to go home go enjoy yourself go spend time with family friends go to buddy's say Well I know right sure I'll do that and we probably hit the bars are doing if we did woke up of four five days later he lost by three whatever that can only disappear basically what happened right here told us in losses reelection campaign about the camp a man she was ultimately fired up I never had another job in politics again but it instilled in me something that good politicians always know you run like a ten points behind no matter what the work right up until Election Day normally through lectionary my son was not like the kind of deep red conservative Republican is more of a moderate Republican very moderate took the seat from Nick marvelous who happened to get indicted going into that election the first time Peter won in ninety two which is always helpful when you're putting it aside but even Massachusetts Republicans go back into the days of Bill Weld and Paul salute e in Jane Swift the Republican governors Weld and Mitt Romney and Mitt these aren't the ultra conservative right wing of the party in the tri group by group of fiscal responsibility and a lot of that was held at the Statehouse by Democrats and Republicans that's why thing for a period time well had a pretty good run as the governments choose because you can work across party lines to agree on fiscal responsible things and into me that that's the most important thing you know the other stuff is important it's not as important and so you intend to DC you got a degree you get a master's degree and in and did you have to write a thesis and so I waited so they have this thing at the end of you know when you're finishing a master's degree they actually time you get to sit there to answer a series of questions and memorize all these authors as just look is a disaster somehow passed me I think it wanted me to get Get Me Out of School School of Public Affairs in Washington and American University and got so lucky as a first person my entire extended family ever to go to graduate school and chose a big deal really big deal but I passed probably by the grace of God and work on Capitol Hill for a little while and then decided to go out and really want to work for Bob Ney from Ohio to work on cars when A's campaign in ninety eight and ran his re elected ninety eight in two thousand Bob Ney from Ohio where I had a different look at politics their politics will hire a very different and they are in Massachusetts Bob won and he went on to become the chairman the mayor they call the mayor of Capitol Hill the chairman House must ration committing I left that wasn't for me he ran into some problems himself in the Abner muff scandal yeah Bob and am going to jail and you're surprised that involves a very good names very good to me and took very good care mean I mean the best sense when I was move into Ohio and have the family out there but what happens I think and this is not just on Bob's people come to Washington they get staffs in the cars and they get office isn't ever tells me how great they are in the rules sometimes and Bob grew up in it in a tough area of Ohio southeast Ohio's coal country in the steel industry that been decimated and I think sometimes people forget like a you know when people back home we make a hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year as a congressman and the catacombs making thirty thousand dollars in your taking the free meals in the free trips those are things that I'm thinking of Congress in trouble he's not the only one you got into a little bit of trouble and two when you see you I guess inadvertently walked into the capital of a gun in your laundry bag or whatever it was and what the hell is that so you know what happened was I had a license to carry concealed weapons save Ohio and my head in a bag lunch bag that I would travel back and forth within and the night before usual happy news I would drive the member's car is you have a member of Congress place because I would drive him to and from higher we can never really thought about it for whatever reason and didn't really bring the car to the cattle very often and maybe on the outside to pick him up very quickly and at and what happened that particular day was had my bag my home in Virginia and went into the capital the same way I would normally do but the back with me and I walked along with building I put my bag in the magnet on through the x ray machine like everybody else I walk through and the officer said to me acne step truths are of course through nice as the show back of course it is it what it was literally saw the pictures just overloaded with very light jets going to bring back to Highland goat and he says I think you've got some in the basement by all means I had no understanding intentional whatever and and and it was a pretty awkward humbling feeling because you go from freedom not freedom and in a matter of seconds so you got locked up oh yeah I know right there they said on the way they said looking we've got a process you and that's what they do into the kettle pleases so the obvious question is what why did you have a gun was this recruitment of campaigning that it was you know on the big support the second when I was in Ohio you know something that we go in should a lot and this wasn't anything more than that it was a nefarious anyway but to use them it's very humbling when you go from having freedom to not having freedom a matter of seconds and I went down was processing the D C facility and at the look I'm as much leg of a tough ten is a whole different ballgame when you walk in to a situation like that and you really have no freedom and I waited hours to have the judge call me and really swim or my own reconnaissance and that you had to hire an attorney and all the things that people do and ultimately I was found that there's no intent obviously even the police officers because a professional said Look clearly I did not know it was in the back by by my expression by my demeanor and they came to testify to that and the congressman said look obviously has no intention here of any harm which of course that was but it was a you're like me or laundry itself could have been designated a well a deadly weapon believe me if I e the number of days I had in that bag you might imagine but dude it would do to change you in a way that experience oh sure you get into a situation like that and it reminds you just how important freedom is how you go from doing what you think you can do from one day to the next and all the sudden your life is not your own about what you do with your weapons now just the stuff in Chicago I want to calibrate that whereas I Know You Fine But you know does she have to have to be cognizant all the time but more importantly I think the real issue is in an instant someone's life can change and sometimes you don't plan on it and that was a big change for me going and having to go through that look I was very fortune had a boss that understood is clearly a mistake and he didn't fire me which I thought was very kind of him I offered to resign of course was in the same and resources to get representation my guess is you there were people in that DC lockup who didn't have that and I mean this issue of the criminal justice system is one that is hotly debated now because you got a lot of people sitting there don't have the resources of the fence of some of them for crimes that honestly in line to stand like a crime is a crime but they are different levels including a felony is very different and things that are not in any way to be provocative but probably things less meaningful than walking into the U S Capitol with a gun that's exactly right and you know I didn't know at the time but I've learned senses a number of people do this on a fairly regular basis this is something because they come from other areas they think that the new weapon in DC for whatever reason and you know it's a fairly common occurrence at people walking to the capital it's a scary thing though you know I um given the times in which we live you know I may honor those guys who have to screen everybody walks in there because you know there's there's a potential for some really horrible things to happen um so then you left Washington and you became an organizer yeah I went up and frontage of the Republican National Committee to be the Northeast liberal political director and help some races their work in the New Jersey governor's race which is an off year election up there way back a million years ago Jim McGreevey and those guys those are the races were doing at the time but I went to a five one C4 against McGreevey guess we could actually breach on that was a candidate Republican era of Jersey City is right I spent a number of months working trying to flash image is very very exciting spending time in Trenton at the time there are no hotels and friends I get to drive back and forth the Princeton which is fine but I I left there and joined an organization called Americans for prosperity American prosperity Foundation which is the Koch Brothers sponsored group probably in pretty much in its early years it is amazing you had the privilege of taking my wife and I think maybe my daughter to time on one of a vacation we were down in Aruba and I had this phone call from this person never heard of he says Hey this is Tim Phillips of Americans frustrating like to hire you to run Hampshire I have no idea who you are what the organization is but the vacation my family if you want to talk to me I'll be back in two weeks and lo behold he actually called and I kind of came aboard to give some advice and counsel because I had done a U S Senate race in Hampshire and they said look you in hatred seems to be the type of place where smaller government in general would be a good message there and soul has done building the chapel at launching chapter building it trying to pass bills at the state legislative level that would reduce the burden of taxes on people give people more economic freedom and dad built that to some level of success much or how much but then after three or four years of doing that they promoted me and I oversaw the fairly large region the country on their behalf and then ultimately went on to run their voter registration and get the vote activities on a nationwide basis and it was based on the book The Victory Lab such Eisenberg book Tim Phillips has been a guest here at the opium on this show on whether you whatever you know I have is that different orientation a lot of issues but their model is a pretty impressive model and they started off not doing races so much is doing issues I don't think that's well understood I mean they built a foundation based on lists that they accumulated of people who are motivated not by candidates but by issue the models very different and I can tell you when I launch the chapter on the Statehouse steps in Concord New Hampshire literally seven people showed up my wife is one of them are infant daughter was the other and then five friends and that's all it was and to the fanfare of exacting nobody really cared nobody wanted it just going to another group they thought the difference the model is if you raise money from within your state you can get buy in from the people who actually impacted by the legislation that you trying to change the model fails and that's a good thing so it was important to get the people from the state of nature to say look this is something we want and you're creating value so we engage in races we engage with candidates who are either running for the U S Senate or congressional or or or down ballot races when twenty that we just focus on Statehouse legislative activities we look at issues like Right to Work Week in New Hampshire become a Right to Work is still a fight that's going on to this day for us it was something where we saw some early success but the law to by name when we start to really grow was when the Republicans took over the Statehouse and we knew that we could help move an agenda which was going to be pro economic freedom and that's where AFP really challenge was a Democrat John Lynch a Democratic governor who famously debated a cardboard cutout of him on the state I did state she had tea party day a love I would be remiss if I didn't ask you that this mom because you are an expert on New Hampshire politics do you do youth do you think your your old colleague Steve Miller was on TV suggesting that there was a cavalcade of buses coming across the border from Massachusetts and New Hampshire with voters who from Massachusetts who are voting Hampshire you're an expert on New Hampshire politics almost every Republican in New Hampshire set that's that that didn't happen that's not what happens but along the hinge is very unique needs to be changed because the law stipulates in the Save New Hampshire if it is your frame of mind on election day that you are in Hampshire resident in your Intel to vote there that need to be there for one day one week one month one year and I think the problem with that the way that the Attorney General Steven Hampshire has read this law is that is so broad that it has the potential for voter fraud because people could come in that day if they so chose and say look you know what I've got a business here or I feel like a manger as it because I've always been here guess what I'm going to vote in elections and not ask about what the potential to understand the point you're making but the notion that a lot has to be change what you think that the election turned the New Hampshire on people coming across the border and posing as New Hampshire as I live on the border I didn't see buses coming across the line to say that hey we've moved up from Massachusetts and candidly most of the people actually moving from Massachusetts moving to the southern tier of the state of New Hampshire that happens to be the most conservative area of the state the Rockingham and Hillsborough County are rattling up order so I don't think you have that but what I do think you have is you have the potential in the future for voter fraud in the important part here Dave is yet remember with four hundred state representatives and state of New Hampshire literally one or two vote in these districts where they only represent thirty three hundred people could make a difference so I think the state needs to address that they've tried to do some of that with voter ID in saying look if you want to cast provisional ballots if you don't live in the state don't have to recognize drivers' license from the state you can cast a provisional ballot but when go back and verify by mailing you a piece of mail at that address before we count your vote I think it's a fair thing for the state to do we'll take a short break and we'll be right back with Corey Lowe and ASCII rocket mortgage by Quicken loans proudly supports the X Files when it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender it's important to work with someone you can trust leisure best interests in mind with rockin' mortgage you'll get a transparent online process that gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision skip the bank of the waiting and go completely online at Quicken loans dot com slash X Files equal Housing lender license in all fifty states and MLS consumer access dot org Number thirty thirty so tell me how you came to know Donald Trump I mean most of you obviously knew Donald Trump like everybody else saw on TV you knew me as a personality when did you actually meet I was still working for Americans for prosperity in April of twenty fourteen hand on what happened was Dave posse who is the president says he united and I decided that we were going to jointly have an event and invite potential presenter Kate Upton Hampshire between the two organs that organization has united Americans frustrated when a jointly host an event and invite as many potential presidential candidate in Hampshire to address the crowd right good earned media opportunity for anybody and marker reveal came Ted Cruz came Mike Lee came Kelly Ayotte was there a number of Mike Huckabee Rand Paul and me lots of I don't run around like that just lets not do this these ballots by this ok so Mr. Trump local helicopter for me or because you guys knew that if he came this is going to be a show at but you look when you've got eight or nine potential presidential candidates in the room going to have a drawer anyway C span going to cover it live it's the first the nation were spoiled in Hampshire so where you see this and had the biggest one we could get and I'm like I run a very tight ship we knew of us are exactly on time and on time just am going and at four pm was going going long and had it mapped out minute by minute I think each and it was given like nine mins to speak with the clock and Mr. Trump came up and never be the Marsha Blackburn was a bunch of others and will have a lunch break schedule to get to walk around we scheduled him right before lunch break nine minutes we spoke to the entire lunch hour forty five min for this flashing stop talking sign and down and he just you just wanna give a speech in which ever is my first interaction with snow and the thing is most striking to me was at my young daughter with me who's she's ten now so she's about seven at the time back in the green room and you have four kids I do and and shoes you'll decide when to come and she said Hey Daddy is that yes she said the man over there offer me rides helicopter what do you think that's all we want to do she shook her head she said Now I feel that's okay you'll have to go but oh so kind to go out as we have to do that none of the other candidates offered nobody nobody Rubio Cruz know but I just was very kind to them and following that interaction with them I sent my thank you note of course is as just a matter of courtesy and then a fast forward to November of twenty fourteen after the elections de boss called me up again and if I have a good relationship strongly ship and he said Hey I've got to go to New York in January to go see Mr. Trump to come with me sure what I would go see him come with me will mean yours of course who wouldn't want to go see Company York and I ended up the day before i suppose to go to New York gave calm easy cake or something came up can be that more can you go anyways short by going for it I just go see Mr. Trump to be fine so I drove to the work and waited a long story short I ended up in his office and stood up shook my hand we are talking sir tell me about his air force meaning his helicopters and airplanes and all the things that he had a need to lose and you in turn did the same UI Barak I rented a car to get here with us one zip car I think it's called and is nineteen and the days of you know it was fine and then we are talking with both of which of the conversation he said to me You when my campaign for president what he think the odds me running in winning our message said No sir all due respect five percent he said I think a ten percent and I said Let's compromise seven have said done and with that that's why such a good negotiator he started I write and and look I walked away thinking I had the benefit he walked away thinking he had the benefit and shook my hand and he said OK hired did you go into that meeting with any expectation that he was going to tell you the news can run for president and this was November two thousand Four Seasons January fifteen January fifteen so he didn't announce in June so he hardly on the spot I stood up I remember very clearly walked out of his office I call my wife and I think it took a new job she said doing what I'm not sure and I never did yeah exactly and look I've been working to this the cokes and not run out of money anytime soon okay they were doing just fine American prospect was doing well and is doing well and I said You know what let's try some different to take a chance and look it became a bone of contention later after I was actually the campaign by contract to look at them to work you'll have a contract because if you fire me tomorrow became a bone of contention because it had a non disclosure clause in it because it said that if you want to terminate my relationship you have to pay me for the length of my contract right which is how normal people do business but did have an understated and so I signed up and he's ok start with me tomorrow honestly I've got a job and at first it was in South Carolina and was unsure if people come out to see him because he was a celebrity or because we're going to run for president we methodically over the next four or five months built what we thought with a bone to the presidential campaign no one really believed he was going running I mean when he came down that escalator in June of two thousand and fifteen everybody there was there was a lot of shock and surprise and a little bit of of mocking I think on the part of the I think I may have been involved in some of the mocking them when did you know what he was going to say when he came down that escalator so on we really want to announce in June fourteen for Happy Flag Day also edgy the presents birthday fell on a Sunday and I know I want to do the Sunday New onto a Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday and so it's been about six weeks planning this announcement meticulously you know from the color of the credentials that we should each person to be involved in that in the chapter I mean look I was involved that but but myself and my jaws huge egos who's the director of the van for the White House we we hole ourselves in the Sheraton in Midtown New York I wrote was supposed to be his announcement speech like any good staff are wooden I went through a dozen iterations of it had every word down and ask you Mr. Trump the seventy seven minutes and forty five seconds is about how long you're supposed to go forth and we delivered to Mr. Trump on that Sunday he read it nice to have any questions no pulse at great so Tuesday I had that look I had a very high privilege of just before he announced he's going to run for president states everyone was gathered downstairs and as a campaign manager I went to his Honda
In Channel

Ep. 192 - Donna Brazile


Ep. 191 - Tony Blair


Ep. 189 - Fred Hochberg


Ep. 188 - Susan E. Rice


Ep. 186 - Bakari Sellers


Ep. 185 - Karen Tumulty


Ep. 184 - David Miliband


Ep. 183 - Ta-Nehisi Coates


Ep. 181 - Rep. Nancy Pelosi


Ep. 180 - David Rubenstein


Ep. 179 - David Litt


Ep. 178 - Jason Kander


Ep. 177 - Jeff Roe


Ep. 176 - Jim Baker


Ep. 175 - Bill Bradley


Ep. 174 - Gayle King


Ep. 173 - Rep. Seth Moulton


Ep. 172 - Sen. Joe Donnelly


Ep. 171 - Gov. Jay Inslee


Ep. 170 - Sen. Patty Murray


Ep. 169 - Don Rose


Ep. 168 - Penny Pritzker


Ep. 167 - Rahm Emanuel


Ep. 165 - Gary Hart


Ep. 163 - Mitch Landrieu


Ep. 162 - Rep. John Lewis


Ep. 160 - Sen. Cory Booker


Ep. 159 - Dana Bash


Ep. 158 - Bill Daley


Ep. 157 - Steven Greenhouse


Ep. 156 - Bob Dold


Ep. 154 - Geoffrey Stone


Ep. 153 - Sen. Tom Cotton


Ep. 152 - Alfredo Corchado


Ep. 151 - Brian Deese


Ep. 150 - Grover Norquist


Ep. 148 - Tony Blinken


Ep. 147 - Gov. Jerry Brown


Ep. 146 - Chelsea Handler


Ep. 145 - Jennifer Granholm


Ep. 144 - Gov. John Kasich


Ep. 143 - Rep. Ro Khanna


Ep. 142 - Shailagh Murray


Ep. 141 - Dan Shapiro


Ep. 140 - Rep. Adam Schiff


Ep. 139 - Lisa Monaco


Ep. 138 - Jason Benetti


Ep. 137 - Jim Sciutto


Ep. 136 - Ben Smith


Ep. 135 - Sen. John McCain


Ep. 134 - Joe Maddon


Ep. 133 - Julián Castro


Ep. 132 - Wendy Sherman


Ep. 131 - Jackie Calmes


Ep. 130 - Michael Froman


Ep. 129 - Pete Buttigieg


Ep. 128 - Sen. Kamala Harris


Ep. 127 - Kasim Reed


Ep. 125 - Jeffrey Goldberg


Ep. 124 - Bill Kristol


Ep. 123 - Corey Lewandowski


Ep. 122 - Mike Leavitt


Ep. 121 - Nancy-Ann DeParle


Ep. 120 - J.D. Vance


Ep. 119 - Matt Bai


Ep. 118 - Carl Bernstein


Ep. 117 - Natalie Jaresko


Ep. 116 - Cody Keenan


Ep. 115 - Cecile Richards


Ep. 114 - Thomas Friedman


Ep. 113 - Theo Epstein


Ep. 112 - Chris Wallace


Ep. 111 - John Brennan


Ep. 110 - Sean Spicer


Ep. 109 - Mark Shriver


Ep. 107 - Eli Attie


Ep. 106 - Tammy Duckworth


Ep. 105 - Denis McDonough


Ep. 104 - Alex Castellanos


Ep. 103 - Sen. Harry Reid


Ep. 102 - Davis Guggenheim


Ep. 101 - Alex Wagner


Ep. 99 - Steve Kerr


Ep. 98 - Larry Summers


Ep. 97 - Douglas Alexander


Ep. 96 - Michael Morell


Ep. 95 - Van Jones


Ep. 94 - John Weaver


Download from Google Play
Download from App Store






Ep. 123 - Corey Lewandowski

The Axe Files with David Axelrod