Politics

'I have no obligation to be honest to the media,' former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski says

Key Points
  • Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said during testimony before a House committee Tuesday that he has "no obligation to be honest to the media."
  • But "when under oath, I've always told the truth," said Lewandowski, who also made new moves in a possible Senate bid Tuesday.
  • Lewandowski testified for roughly five hours before the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon, as the Democrat-led panel weighs whether to recommend that Trump be impeached.
Corey Lewandowski, former campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump, listens to a question during a House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testified before a House committee Tuesday that he has "no obligation to be honest to the media."

But "when under oath, I've always told the truth," said Lewandowski, who also made new moves in a possible Senate bid Tuesday.

Lewandowski, hours into his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, was questioned about statements he had made in prior television interviews. The questioner — attorney Barry Berke, who followed hours of questioning from the committee members — compared those statements with former special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election interference.

"I don't ever remember the president ever asking me to get involved with [former Attorney General] Jeff Sessions or with the Department of Justice in any way, shape or form, ever," Lewandowski had said in a February 2019 interview with MSNBC's Ari Melber.

"That was not true, was it?" Berke asked.

"I have no obligation to be honest to the media," Lewandowski responded. "They're just as dishonest as anybody else."

That retort drew an audible groan from the hearing room.

Lewandowski, 45, managed President Donald Trump's campaign from January 2015 until his firing in June 2016, and remained his close confidant after the 2016 presidential election. He testified for roughly five hours before the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday afternoon, as the Democrat-led panel weighs whether to recommend that Trump be impeached.

From his opening statement onward, Lewandowski had framed himself as an unwavering supporter of Trump's and a combative witness to the committee's Democratic majority.

He frequently refused to answer their questions without specific citations to the text of the Mueller report, which he did not have in front of him. And despite his subpoena to testify, he refused to answer many of their questions, deferring to the White House's instruction for him not to discuss any post-election interactions with Trump beyond those already detailed in Mueller's report.

Democrats rejected that argument, in no small part because Lewandowski was never a member of the Trump administration. Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said during the hearing that holding Lewandowski in contempt was "certainly under consideration."

Berke, on the other hand, asked an aggressive and pointed series of questions about the specifics of Lewandowski's role in the Mueller report, and contrasted it with Lewandowski's other public statements and actions.

When Berke accused Lewandowski of falsely saying in another interview that he had not been asked to give answers to the special counsel, the former Trump campaign boss responded sarcastically.

"Oh, I'm sorry, nobody in front of Congress has ever lied to the public before, I'm sorry," Lewandowski said, while maintaining that he had been truthful under oath.

Ranking Republican Doug Collins of Georgia called the hearing a "sham" after Nadler refused to allow Collins himself to follow Berke with 30 minutes of questions. Nadler said that Collins was a committee member, not staff, and could therefore not have 30 minutes under the new rules that Democrats had just voted for less than a week earlier.

A Lewandowski spokeswoman bashed the use of an "unelected lawyer" on Twitter.

Lewandowski also took new steps toward a possible Senate bid in New Hampshire against incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. A tweet from his official account Tuesday encouraged people to sign up to a pro-Lewandowski website that highlighted his support for, and from, Trump.

Trump sent Lewandowski an attaboy following his opening statement, calling it "beautiful."

Lewandowski provided the following statement through his spokesperson:

"This concludes my sixth testimony to Congress or the Special Counsel's Office. I am pleased that today's hearing has given the American public the chance to see that Democrats have wasted nearly three years trying to unseat a fairly elected President. I hope the House can move forward on important issues facing the country instead of continuing to indulge in partisan hysteria about impeaching President Trump."

Lewandowski is mentioned dozens of times in Mueller's 448-page report on Russian election interference, possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, and possible obstruction of justice by Trump himself.

The report says that Trump, in June 2017, told Lewandowski in an Oval Office meeting to give then-Attorney General Sessions a message directing Sessions to call Mueller's probe "very unfair."

Lewandowski said he understood the request but then asked Dearborn to deliver it for him, according to the Mueller report. Dearborn never delivered the message, the report says.

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee recently edged closer to formally recommending Trump's impeachment, while maintaining that the president has obstructed justice while in office. Mueller's report listed numerous instances of possible obstruction by Trump, but the special counsel declined to recommend a charge against him. Attorney General William Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein declined to back an obstruction charge based on the report.

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