In a surprise move Monday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump dumped controversial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after a tumultuous stretch marked by missteps and infighting.
"The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign," the campaign said in a statement. "The campaign is grateful to Corey for his hard work and dedication and we wish him the best in the future."
The move came as Trump faces continued deep resistance from many quarters of his party concerned by his contentious statements and his faltering poll numbers.
The New York Times
reported that one unnamed insider said the move had been planed for some time, beginning when it became clear that Trump would lock up the nomination.
Lewandowski, a former New Hampshire field director for a conservative advocacy group, has been with Trump since the wealthy New York developer began his White House bid a year ago.
He developed a close relationship with the candidate, traveling with Trump on his private plane to nearly every campaign stop, giving him more direct access to Trump than nearly any other campaign staffer.
He was a chief promoter of the idea that the best campaign strategy was to "Let Trump be Trump." He frequently dismissed the notion that Trump needed to hire more experienced political hands, spent on polling and sophisticated data operations, or moderate his rhetoric as he moved toward the general election.
He had spent the past several months in a power struggle with the more traditional Republican strategists Trump hired more recently to try to reshape his campaign operation.
Led by Paul Manafort, the team of veterans had been pressuring Trump to hire more staff and tone down his fiery public persona but their early efforts were rebuffed, campaign sources told Reuters. Manafort did not respond to a request for comment.
The firing came after meetings involving top campaign aides, The Hill reports, noting that reports of tension between Lewandowski and campaign chairman Paul Manafort have circulated since Manafort joined the campaign in March.
Lewandowski, known for his brusque manner, was accused of manhandling Michelle Fields, a female reporter, in Florida during the primary campaign but the charge against him by a local sheriff was later dropped.
He is still scheduled to attend the Cleveland convention as the chairman of New Hampshire's delegation.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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