An Oval Office meeting regarding strategy for the 2018 midterms devolved into a heated shouting match tonight. According to sources present during the meeting, former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and White House political director Bill Stepien engaged in an “aggressive” argument after Lewandowski lashed out at those in nearly every department within the White House.
— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) December 22, 2017
Per The New York Times, “Mr. Lewandowski called the White House team too insular, and he said it had done little to tend to fellow Republicans or to conduct outreach with outside groups and supporters. Asked for an example, Mr. Lewandowski said he knew of a senator who had not been invited to the White House Hanukkah party, one attendee said.”
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Lewandowski also criticized the Republican National Committee and “told the president that his government staff and political advisers at the party committee were doing little to help him,” citing the anemic White House Office of Public Liaison.
Among those present at the meeting were Trump, Mr. Stepien, Chief of Staff John Kelly, counselor Kellyanne Conway, communications director Hope Hicks, Lewandowski, and Brad Pascale. Pascale and Lewandowski are both advisers to America First Policies, the principal political group supporting Trump.
The argument between Lewandowski and Stepien allegedly spilled into the hallway following the meeting. While Stepien and Lewandowski “eventually reached a cordial place,” that did not stop the political director from demanding that lawyers be present for all subsequent meetings.
“Mr. Stepien called a leading official at America First Policies, Brian O. Walsh, and said its counsel needed to be present for future meetings, according to a person briefed on the events.”
Trump, for his part, appeared “receptive” to Lewandowski’s argument. Meanwhile, Chief of Staff Kelly, along with “other attendees of the meeting,” were “put off” by Lewandowski’s denigrations.
This is not the first instance of infighting within the ever-tumultuous Trump administration, but it is especially significant as the White House recovers from a bruising loss in Alabama’s Senate race. Doug Jones defeated Republican candidate Roy Moore, handing Democrats a victory in deep red Alabama for the first time in a quarter century.
Since the beginning of 2017, Democrats have flipped 15 seats in special elections. Republicans have flipped zero. In total, Democrats flipped 35 seats from red to blue. Even in solidly red districts, such as those in Oklahoma, South Carolina, Kansas, Alabama, and Tennessee, Democrats are overperforming Trump’s numbers by double digits.
As the White House and its Republican enablers in Congress continue their assault on the will of the American people – from healthcare to tax cuts for the rich to net neutrality to immigration – voters across the country will continue to elect Democrats as a clear and distinct referendum on a flailing Trump administration.