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

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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):

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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