Donald Trump reportedly has ordered a major campaign shake-up ahead of upcoming Republican primaries, handing over control of operations to new hires Paul Manafort and Rick Wiley – a move said to be upsetting long-time staff.
Politico reported late Monday that Trump has given Wiley and Manafort a $20 million budget for contests in May and June, including the vital June 7 California primary. Trump likely faces a must-win in California to have any chance of clinching the GOP nomination outright and avoiding a contested convention.
Manafort was hired last month to lead Trump’s push for delegates, while Wiley was hired last week by Manafort as the campaign’s national political director.
The shakeup reportedly is alienating staff headed by campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Sources told Politico that the resignation Monday of national field director Stuart Jolly, a Lewandowski loyalist, came as a result of his displeasure with the reorganization.
Trump on Tuesday criticized the Politico report, claiming the website did not call him -- though he did not specifically dispute the details of the new gameplan.
The campaign's decision reportedly was announced during a Saturday meeting held at Trump Tower and attended by Manafort, Wiley, Lewandowski and deputy campaign manager Michael Glassner.
Trump told "Fox & Friends" Tuesday he was not at the meeting.
“I was not even at a meeting. Nobody called me from Politico,” Trump said. “These guys write stories -- it’s not necessarily a bad story -- but they write stories, they have no facts, they never even call and I hear they’re going out of business.”
The shake-up reportedly is part of a push to professionalize the operation that, to date, largely has succeeded with the help of free media exposure.
According to the report, the new organizational plan would have had Jolly reporting to Wiley. Sources said there was no way Jolly would have accepted working under Wiley.
In his resignation letter, obtained by Politico, Jolly expressed his “deepest gratitude” to the billionaire, but said “it is time for me to leave the campaign and pursue education reform issues.”
Trump denied that new hires were causing issues with the staff, saying “everyone seems to be getting on pretty well.” He also praised Manafort as a “total professional” and said Lewandowski is doing “an excellent job.”
Trump has remained loyal to Lewandowski, despite the campaign manager being criticized for being outmaneuvered in the delegate fight by Ted Cruz’s campaign, and a battery charge for grabbing a reporter. That charge was dropped last week.