Corey Lewandowski: Trump Was Simply Asking Comey for “Loyalty to the Country”

Nice try.

Corey Lewandowski

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski at Trump Tower in 2016Evan Vucci/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.

The Wednesday release of former FBI Director James Comey’s prepared testimony before the Senate intelligence committee led to an immediate outburst of implausible conclusions from backers of President Donald Trump. In the words of my boss, “Their reactions are revealing a profound dishonesty that far exceeds the norms of usual political spin, and are demonstrating that the Trumpified quarters of the GOP and the conservative movement are intellectually bankrupt and devoid of principle.”

But no response to Comey’s opening statement was more dishonest or intellectually bankrupt than that of former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Among other things, Comey’s prepared remarks confirmed reports that during a January 27 dinner, the president repeatedly demanded Comey’s loyalty:

A few moments later, the President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence…Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further.

Much of Washington spent Wednesday afternoon arguing about the meaning of loyalty. Appearing on Fox News, Lewandowski decided to argue that “what the president asked for was loyalty to the country and loyalty to make sure that the American people have the justice system that they want.”

“That’s not unheard of,” Lewandowski added. “That’s not uncalled for.”

You can watch Lewandowski’s comments below, via Media Matters (my former employer):

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest