Lewandowski Says He Never Delivered Trump’s Backchannel Message Because He Was On Vacation

President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on September 17, 2019. (Photo credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty Images)
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September 17, 2019 4:05 p.m.

Former Trump campaign chairman Corey Lewandowski denied on Tuesday that he was too cowardly to deliver President Trump’s 2017 backchannel message to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Instead, he blamed his failure to follow through on Trump’s directive — which sought that Sessions give a public speech curtailing the Russia probe — on a vacation he took with his family that summer, after Trump made the initial request.

I took my kids to the beach, congressman. That was more of a priority,” Lewandowski told Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) during a House Judiciary Committee Hearing. He returned to that excuse repeatedly in the hearing.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which outlined the Lewandowski episode in great detail, makes no mention of a vacation getting in Lewandowski’s way.

Twice, Lewandowski’s efforts to get the message to Sessions, who was recused from the Russia probe, fell short. A meeting he had planned with Session was canceled, and after Trump asked him about the task again, Lewandowski tried to pawn it off to a White House aide who formerly worked for Sessions. The aide, Rick Dearborn told Mueller the request made him feel uncomfortable, so he blew it off.

On Tuesday, Democrats tried to pin down Lewandowski on why he made such a half-hearted effort to deliver the message to Sessions. They suggested that Lewandowsi knew that it was wrong — and illegal — to try to limit Mueller’s probe. Lewandowski denied that Trump asked him to do anything illegal.

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