First there was Sean Spicer, smarming and dissembling through his lectures as if he were back behind the White House briefing room podium. Now, Corey Lewandowski has become the latest former Trump employee to serve as a visiting fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Lewandowski made a name for himself by lying on television, threatening reporters, grabbing and injuring then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and most recently, being a man of conveniently shabby memory. He spent several days this week holding Q&A sessions with Harvard students, though none of the school’s social media accounts advertised his presence as they did Spicer’s. We can’t imagine why.
According to the institute’s website, Lewandowski was supposed to spend that time bestowing upon the next class of public servants his “in-depth understanding of the political process and the administration of President Donald J. Trump.” And just like Spicer before him, each session began with the instruction that the hour to follow would be entirely off the record, much to the frustration of the Harvard students.
HuffPost spoke to one of the students who’d won the chance to attend one of Lewandowski’s classes. The student said that in contrast with the Spicer visit, students appeared much more “ready to challenge” Lewandowski.
That might have been due to Lewandowski’s incident with Fields and the subsequent simple battery charge.
To offer a quick refresher, in Fields’ police report, the arresting officer wrote that Fields had showed him her forearm, “which revealed bruising from what appeared to be several finger marks indicating a grabbing type injury.” The report also noted that video footage clearly showed Lewandowski grabbing Fields, and says Washington Post reporter Ben Terris confirmed her account.
Lewandowski had a different understanding of the events in question.
But thanks to an ever-worsening news cycle, that’s all in the past now, and Harvard was more than happy to welcome Lewandowski and offer him — a man who got fired from a cable network for people who think Fox News is too liberal— the chance to mold young minds.
Here are just a few of the lessons Harvard paid the former Trump campaign manager for, according to the student in attendance. The student paraphrased Lewandowski’s comments during the discussion, and the notes have been lightly edited for clarity:
On Corey’s unique perspective:
Trump was a political phenomenon that won’t be repeated any time soon.
On what the most surprising part of the Trump presidency has been:
The most surprising thing was the transition team. When Trump was sworn in, his government wasn’t fully functional because of the dynamic between Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus, who all had to report to each other but really had no authority collectively or individually. No one was the real leader, even though they were all ostensibly the leaders. It’s been much better since John Kelly came on.
On what Donald Trump has and has not achieved so far:
There are three things Trump hasn’t achieved yet that he campaigned on: Repealing and replacing Obamacare, significant tax cuts and infrastructure. Three of his successes were appointing [Supreme Court Justice Neil] Gorsuch, freeing a U.S. hostage in Egypt and ending a lot of Obama-era regulations.
On “draining the swamp”:
Steve Bannon’s goal is to bring people to Washington who will challenge the Republican status quo [that] has led to a huge deficit and has been composed of lies for the past 30 years. Realignment is long overdue, and Steve Bannon is recruiting candidates who won’t support Mitch McConnell.
On how Trump made calls during the campaign:
Trump made campaign decisions based on deep conversations with his family and a small group of advisers (like Phil Ruffin) who have had long working relationships with Trump.
On doing away with “globalism”:
The rhetoric coming out of the White House is “America First.” This is in stark contrast to rhetoric from Obama, who gave us eight years of leadership from behind, globalism, and a focus on non-U.S. citizens over citizens.
Trump doesn’t want to be apologetic — it’s OK to be American. This administration is going to stand up and buck political correctness.
On how much minority groups love Trump:
Six percent of African-Americans voted for Trump, which is the highest for a Republican other than Bob Dole. Muslims, Hispanics and women are all voting for Donald Trump. [Trump actually got 8 percent of the black vote. George W. Bush, the most recent candidate not to run against a black candidate, received 11 percent of the black vote.]
On whether Lewandowski’s history should have disqualified him from the fellowship:
I got a guy elected who had never been a politician, and who had very limited funding compared to every other campaign. Plus, Trump won in places that hadn’t been Republican for a while.
On the Trump family’s killer instincts:
Trump and his family didn’t understand how difficult the presidential race would be, because they’d never done it before.
On Trump’s comments about John McCain:
When Trump made his comment about John McCain not being a war hero, I thought the campaign was over. Given my experience in politics, the media’s reaction to a statement like that would have ended the campaign. The response wasn’t as bad as I expected because a respected journalist came out and agreed with Trump and said something like, “Yeah, John McCain isn’t so great to veterans.” Because one of their own had defended Trump, the media couldn’t be as critical. [We have no idea what he’s talking about.]
On something virtually anyone who has not been trapped beneath a large object for the past two years could tell us:
Whether it’s the right thing or the wrong thing, Trump will double down on whatever he thinks or says.
On campaign ethics and, for no particular reason, on collusion with Russia:
I’ve never pitched a negative story on an opponent. There’s an ethical way to win a campaign and an unethical way. Ask any reporter — I’ve never pitched a negative story.
I wouldn’t break the law, and I hope that anyone who colluded with the Russians — either on the Trump campaign or the Clinton campaign — goes to jail for the rest of their lives.