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Former Aides Have a Story to Tell About the Trump-Russia Investigation — It Isn’t Like the One You’ve Heard Before

After two years of intense media coverage and congressional scrutiny surrounding the Russia investigation, the end of 2018 brought speculation that the probe into the Trump campaign had started to wind down. Now, two of Trump’s former closest aides are telling their side of the story with a derisive tone toward the prevailing narrative in the press.

In a recently released book, “Trump’s Enemies: How the Deep State Is Undermining the Presidency,” former campaign leaders Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie vehemently defend the president and question the motivations behind special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Although the book portrays Mueller’s investigation as a witch hunt, the authors also seemed to consider him a danger to be revered.

“We have no doubt that Mueller is a skilled enough lawyer to ‘get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich,’” the two wrote.

Part of the book includes a lengthy interview with the president himself, who suggested that the Russia controversy was a net positive for him as it energized his base.

“I think it makes my base stronger […] I think the level of love now is far greater than when we won,” he said before asking Vice President Mike Pence, who joined the interview and concurred with that assessment.

Unofficial Frontmen
Bossie and Lewandowski sat down with IJR and portrayed themselves as still incredibly loyal and Trump’s unofficial frontmen in the media, helping to advance his agenda from outside the administration.

“We do exactly what he wants us to do,” Bossie told IJR during the interview. “We serve in whatever capacity is beneficial to him.”

Lewandowski and Bossie were both key figures in Trump’s presidential campaign, serving as campaign manager and deputy campaign manager, respectively, at different points during the race. Early in 2016, Trump dismissed Lewandowski, but he still serves as an informal adviser to the White House, as his book displays through its many accounts of their personal interactions.

The two said that they published their book in order to inform Americans about alleged attempts to combat Trump by both government employees and others in Washington.

“We can go on television and help with the narrative, help with the messaging. And we also make recommendations on policy and on staff,” Bossie told IJR when asked about the pair’s role after leaving Trump’s team.

Pre-Election Claims
Instead of fixating on allegedly suspicious and seedy connections among Trump’s associates, Lewandowski and Bossie’s story focuses on whom they call “deep state” actors like longtime FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Lewandowski and Bossie define “deep state” individuals as holdovers and career government employees “who understand how to use their positions within the bureaucracy to stop a president’s agenda.”

While much of the book attempts to weave already-known facts into a narrative favorable for the president, it also contains some nuggets of new claims by the aides’ anonymous sources within the administration.

For example, the two allege that former President Barack Obama was not only aware that the FBI was surveilling Trump’s campaign, but he also attended meetings that likely involved discussions about that surveillance. When the authors make that claim, they don’t offer any credible evidence. They merely attribute it to unnamed sources, a practice the president has vehemently criticized in major media outlets’ reporting.

“He did know, and that was clearly evident with the public text message exchanges between the two lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page,” Lewandowski told IJR during the interview. He seemed to refer to Page’s text, revealed in February 2018, that read, “Potus wants to know everything we’re doing.”

That text came just before the 2016 election and was just the latest of troubling messages sent between the two. As IJR previously reported, both sent politicized texts disparaging Trump while the FBI was conducting investigations relevant to the election.

The authors’ ire is mostly reserved for individuals like Strzok, Page, and former FBI Director James Comey, all of whom played prominent roles as “Trump’s Enemies.” Those three, the book suggests, nefariously plotted against the president and opened the door for Mueller to plague Trump’s presidency with alleged scandal.

It’s unclear how much of the book is verifiable since many of their sources are anonymous. And the current administration, Lewandowski indicated during IJR’s interview, has become somewhat of a divided battlefield where those supporting the president conflict with influences from, as he calls them, “deep state” actors.

Naming Names
In terms of their motivation for the book, Lewandowski and Bossie told IJR that they wanted to “make sure the American people know of all of the things that Donald Trump is up against as he is the president.” As Lewandowski noted, it also takes plenty of shots at congressional Democrats and media figures, including conservatives who oppose Trump.

They don’t shy away from naming names, detailing how people like former economic adviser Gary Cohn allegedly undermined the president’s agenda after entering as part of his poorly vetted transition team.

“He’s the poster boy for the disloyal staff conspiring against President Trump,” the two wrote. Cohn, Lewandowski argued, fundamentally opposed Trump’s philosophy of revitalizing the economy by renegotiating bad trade deals.

He pointed to Bob Woodward’s book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” which claimed that Cohn and former White House aide Rob Porter conspired to remove documents from Trump’s desk in order to influence his decision-making. Those actions, Lewandowski said, clearly qualified them as “enemies of the president and enemies of the people.”

In their book, the two lament how Cohn and others were able to enter the administration despite their previous criticism of then-candidate Trump. The president, Lewandowski indicated during our interview, potentially had buyer’s remorse over Cohn by his second day on the job.

Lewandowski now says Trump has since taken steps to hire more trusted personnel, including economic adviser Larry Kudlow, national security adviser John Bolton, and former Fox News executive Bill Shine.

Loyalty became a more prominent issue this year when, after months of continuous leaks to the press, a “senior official” in the administration published an anonymous op-ed deriding the president in The New York Times. White House aides have their suspicions about who wrote the op-ed, but according to Bossie, it was easier to identify which aides definitely didn’t write it.

Son-in-law Jared Kushner and wife Ivanka, whom some have suspected to secretly oppose aspects of Trump’s agenda, are not prominent figures in the book. When IJR asked about it, Bossie indicated speculation about them was ridiculous, and Lewandowski reaffirmed their commitment to the patriarch of their family.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Jared and Ivanka support the president 10,000 percent,” Lewandowski said. His comments came just before the president signed legislation for criminal justice reform, an agenda item that Kushner reportedly lobbied for.

The pair also takes time to praise people like former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who faced sentencing for lying to the FBI about his contact with Russia. Flynn, the two wrote, was a respected and brilliant intelligence officer who became a target of another attack by the “deep state.”

Both believe that Trump would eventually do a sit-down interview with Mueller, an idea they cautioned against because it was, according to them, almost certainly a perjury trap.

Regardless of where the Russia investigation goes from here, Lewandowski and Bossie are committed to painting the controversy in the president’s favor.

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