Is Donald Trump’s presidential campaign falling apart just days before he secures enough delegates to officially become the Republican Party’s nominee?
While Team Trump may say everything is fine, the GOP frontrunner just fired top aide Rick Wiley just says after he clashed with a man close to campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign on Wednesday night announced it had parted ways with its national political director, Rick Wiley — a move that appears to stem in part from an ongoing turf war atop the campaign.
Wiley was the first high-profile hire by Paul Manafort, the veteran GOP operative who Trump brought on board in late March to help professionalize a campaign that had cruised through the GOP primary season with a skeleton staff.
But Manafort and Wiley quickly found themselves at odds with Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and key members of the team he had built.
Sources in and around the campaign told POLITICO that Wiley was not responsive to Lewandowski or other officials from the old regime, and that he had clashed in recent weeks with Karen Giorno, a Lewandowski ally who ran Trump’s campaign during the Florida GOP primary.
Trump’s campaign, in a statement, suggested that Wiley’s position was not intended to be permanent and thanked him for his service, but it did not make clear the terms of his departure.
“Rick Wiley was hired on a short-term basis as a consultant until the campaign was running full steam. It is now doing better than ever, we are leading in the polls, and we have many exciting events ready to go, far ahead of schedule while Hillary continues her long, boring quest against Bernie,” the statement said.
Wiley did not respond to a phone message seeking comment. And campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not respond when asked directly if Wiley was fired or resigned.
But campaign sources told POLITICO it was the former, and traced the move to Wiley’s row with Giorno, a seasoned Florida campaign consultant who oversaw Trump’s big March 15 win that knocked home-state U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio out of the race.
For weeks, Wiley made appointments and had discussions with Florida Republicans and appeared to be building a new campaign from scratch, sources say. They say he refused, at times, to return Giorno’s calls or take them.
Giorno then began calling other Trump campaign officials to ask them whether Wiley had it out for her or for everyone. On Thursday, word leaked back to Trump. He phoned Giorno, concerned, sources said.
“Tell me what’s wrong?” Trump asked her, according to one person familiar with the call. “Karen unloaded on Wiley,” the source said. “Mr. Trump is loyal. He believed her. … Rick picked a fight with the wrong person.” At that point, Trump ordered Wiley to stay away from Giorno and to neither call nor email her. “Donald is loyal. And she’s loyal,” a source said.
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