Just one day after news broke that informal Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski was opening a political consulting firm in Washington, D.C., the former campaign manager said that the President-elect’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists “is somewhere down the bottom” on Trump’s list of priorities.
Lewandowski was asked Thursday morning on a “Fox and Friends” panel about another Trump adviser, Newt Gingrich, who said Wednesday that Trump “doesn’t want to use” the phrase “drain the swamp” anymore. Towards the end of Trump’s presidential campaign, the phrase was emblematic of his promise to “clean up” the culture of corruption in government.
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade posed the question: “Where does ‘drain the swamp’ stack up on things to adhere to in the Trump camp?”
“Look, I think if you had to put them in a chronological order, ‘drain the swamp’ is somewhere down at the bottom,” Lewandowski replied, before listing a series of policy goals including creating new jobs and fixing bad trade deals.
“So draining the swamp is a larger narrative but what it’s really about is putting people back to work,” he added.
Later Thursday morning, Trump wrote a tweet denying that he had dropped the phrase.
Someone incorrectly stated that the phrase “DRAIN THE SWAMP” was no longer being used by me. Actually, we will always be trying to DTS.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
Later in the interview, Lewandowski defended his decision to lead a new consulting firm, Avenue Strategies, just a block away from the White House. Co-host Steve Doocey had said some in the “mainstream media” had taken it as a sign that Lewandowski himself was wading into the swamp.
“Look, it’s amazing,” Lewandowski replied. “If I open a small business, I’m a bad guy. If I go inside the administration, I’m a bad guy. If I’m unemployed, I’m a statistic. You can’t win with the mainstream media sometimes.”
“If I can be a resource to corporations who want to get a fast answer from the government and not a long maybe, I think that’s a value add that I can potentially provide, so look, that’s what the goal is here,” he continued. “The goal isn’t to go and become a swamp creature or to become a lobbyist. I’m not going to be a lobbyist. It’s not going to happen.”
This post has been updated.