Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Thursday downplayed the president-elect’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of lobbyists and ingratiating influence-peddlers in Washington, D.C.
“If you had to put them in a chronological order, drain the swamp is probably somewhere down at the bottom,” Lewandowski said of the refrain on “Fox & Friends,” adding that “what it’s really about is putting people back to work.”
“As opposed to getting tax reform done, making sure middle-class people have more jobs, making sure we’re renegotiating our bad trade deals, ensuring that we’re fixing ObamaCare,” the long-time aide and surrogate continued.
Trump denied the claims on Thursday, tweeting that his administration will “always be trying to” empty the swamp.
Lewandowski announced on Wednesday that he was opening a lobbying firm alongside former Trump campaign adviser Barry Bennett, engaging in the same kind of work the president-elect and his team frequently railed against.
“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 said. “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.”
The about-turn came on Wednesday, when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he was told the president-elect had soured on the refrain.
“He now says it was cute, but he doesn’t want to use it anymore,” Gingrich said on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” after “somebody wrote back and said they were tired of hearing this stuff.”
The former House speaker backtracked abruptly on Thursday, however, stating he had “mischaracterized” Trump’s attitude. “He intends to drain the swamp,” Gingrich said.
“Drain the swamp” wouldn’t be the first chant to lose favor with Trump now that he has won the election. Earlier this month, the president-elect said he no longer cared about prosecuting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton despite the popular “lock her up” refrain heard at his campaign rallies.
“That plays great before the election ― now we don’t care, right?” he said.
This article has been updated to include Trump’s reaction to Lewandowski’s comments. It has also been updated to include Gingrich’s reversal on the matter.