Republican frontrunner Donald Trump violated the rules of Fox News’ presidential debate on Thursday night by consulting with his campaign manager during a commercial break, CNN reported.
According to a report from CNN Money’s Dylan Byers, Trump consulted with campaign manager Corey Lewandowski during the first commercial break of Thursday’s event, coordination that is explicitly banned by the network’s debate rules.
Citing “rival campaign sources,” CNN reported that while Trump has broken the rules by communicating backstage with Lewandowski at multiple debates, the campaign manager met Trump directly on stage Thursday, which Byers characterized as “a new extreme.” The campaigns were explicitly informed they were not allowed to communicate with the candidates during breaks, the sources told CNN.
An unnamed Fox News source said debate staff asked Lewandowski to leave the stage but he refused. Network representatives then told the campaigns for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Ohio Gov. John Kasich that they could consult with their candidates because Trump had broken the rules.
The offer was immediately accepted by Cruz and Kasich staffers, who were on hand to consult with their candidates for all the remaining breaks. A senior adviser to Rubio went backstage later, and was on deck for the last half of the debate, Byers reported. Fox News is the only network that has rectified a rule violation by inviting the other campaigns backstage, according to CNN.
But the unnamed campaign sources said they spent little time consulting their candidates, aside from Rubio aide Todd Harris, who spoke with the senator during the last commercial break, CNN reported.
While it wasn’t immediately clear what Trump and Lewandowski spoke about, the billionaire did produce a report from the Better Business Bureau, which showed the rating for Trump University upgraded to an “A” grade, to hand over to the Fox News moderators during a commercial break.
Fox News and the Trump campaign did not respond to multiple TPM requests for comment.