Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump’s controversial former campaign manager, is opening a new consulting firm.
Lewandowski served as campaign manager for Trump until June 2016, when he was replaced by Paul Manafort (who was later replaced by Kellyanne Conway). He was reportedly disliked by many within Trump’s inner circle, especially Trump’s adult children.
On Twitter today, Lewandowski announced the launch of Avenue Strategies, a consulting firm. Up until this point, it was thought that Lewandowski was in contention to join the Trump White House, and according to Politico, he met with Jared Kushner earlier this week to discuss a potential job in the administration.
This announcement comes hours after Newt Gingrich said that Trump no longer plans to “drain the swamp” in Washington.
Here’s what you need to know about Avenue Strategies.
1. It Will Support the Agenda of Donald Trump, Who Has Criticized Lobbying
Throughout his presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized political lobbyists, consultants and special interests, especially those who make a profit off of their close relationship with a politician.
But Avenue Strategies makes very clear that Corey Lewandowski has a relationship with President-Elect Donald Trump, emphasizing in its press release that Lewandowski could have worked in the Trump administration if he wanted to.
“After considering multiple opportunities within the administration, I informed [Trump] and his team I think I can best help him outside the formal structure of the government,” Lewandowski says in the press release.
On the official Avenue Strategies website is a description of Lewandowski’s role in the Donald Trump presidential campaign, including the assertion that “Mr. Lewandowski is credited with running a skillfully disruptive political campaign and is often cited as a visionary on understanding the moods and pulse of the American people.”
Lewandowski reportedly remained in contact with Donald Trump in the months leading up to Election Day, being spotted flying on Trump’s airplane several times. He is one of only a handful of individuals who had regular access to Trump during the campaign but who is not joining the administration, with Rudy Giuliani being another.
It’s not just Trump who has spoken negatively about the process of lobbying, though. Lewandowski has made similar comments as well.
“This is the fundamental problem with the ruling class in Washington, DC – the party bosses, the K Street crowd, the lobbyists who control all these politicians,” Lewandowski told Breitbart earlier this year. “They will do anything to maintain their power…And so what you have is a series of people who’ve made a very, very good living by controlling politicians through their donations and making sure they get the legislation done – or not done – in Washington, DC to best benefit their clients. And those days are coming to an end.”
It’s unclear if Lewandowski will be officially registering as a lobbyist.
2. Lewandowski Will Run It With Barry Bennett, a Former Trump Campaign Adviser
In addition to Lewandowski, Avenue Strategies will be run by Barry Bennett, who served as senior adviser to Donald Trump during the 2016 election.
Bennett was previously the campaign manager for Ben Carson’s 2016 bid. He left that campaign in late 2015 after an internal conflict with Carson’s business adviser, Armstrong Williams.
“I called Ben this morning…and explained to him the root of the problem is that you told me Armstrong is not involved in the campaign but he clearly is,” Bennett told The Hill at the time. “My frustration level is boiling over so I told him I think it’s best that I leave.”
After joining the Trump campaign, Bennett helped with Donald Trump’s plan to earn the required number of delegates to secure the Republican nomination, and he also helped prepare for the Republican National Convention.
Avenue Strategies says on its website, “Having managed many races at every level, Barry has a great understanding of modern politics.”
3. The Office Is Located One Block Away From the White House
Lewandowski and Bennett will not be working very far from their old boss.
According to Avenue Strategies’ website, the firm’s office will be located on 1717 Pennsylvania Ave NW in Washington, D.C. That’s about an eight-minute walk from the White House.
The firm makes note of this in its press release, emphasizing in the opening sentence that it will be located “just a block away from the White House.”
4. Lewandowski Reportedly Remains a Trump Confidant
Although Lewandowski no longer has any formal ties to President-Elect Donald Trump, there have been reports that he continues to serve as an informal adviser.
For example, Trump recently had dinner with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, and according to The Washington Post, Lewandowski was responsible for arranging the meeting after traveling to Mexico City to first meet with Slim himself.
The Post also reported that Slim reached out to Lewandowski after the election, knowing that Lewandowski was a trusted adviser of Trump even though he was not a formal member of the staff.
5. Kellyanne Conway Recently Said That Trump Would Crack Down on Consultants
The announcement of Corey Lewandowski’s consulting firm comes just one day after Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager from August until November, said that the 45th president would be cracking down on the influence of consultants as part of his plan to drain the swamp.
“Draining the swamp is not just about lobbying and politicians. It’s also about consultants,” Conway said on the Laura Ingraham Show on Tuesday. “…So when he’s draining it, I’m not going to let anybody throw more crocodiles into it.
And speaking of draining the swamp, Trump confidant Newt Gingrich recently said that this was nothing more than a campaign slogan and that Trump has no plans to follow through on that promise.
“I’m told he now just disclaims that,” Gingrich said of the phrase “drain the swamp” in an NPR interview on Wednesday. “He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore.”