WASHINGTON — The former campaign manager for President Donald Trump's White House bid has told prospective lobbying clients that he has access to Trump's Twitter account, four sources told BuzzFeed News.
In discussions with representatives from at least two different potential clients — Facebook and financial company Blackstone Group — Lewandowski mentioned having access to Trump's Twitter account as a selling point, according to different sources who were briefed on each meeting by participants. Sources also said Lewandowski brought up the same thing in additional meetings as well, but it's unclear which other companies he was courting when he made the same claim.
In emails, Lewandowski repeatedly denied he mentioned access to Trump's Twitter account or that he met with anyone at either of those companies. "I know facts don't matter to buzz feed but it's not true," he wrote. On questions about his meeting with Facebook, he simply said: "Never." And regarding any talks with Blackstone, he said: "I never met Blackstone. Please make sure you accurately report that! I doubt you will."
It was unclear to one of the sources briefed by the meeting participants whether Lewandowski was saying he actually has access to the account, or just that he has the ear of Trump and his digital staff.
A White House official told BuzzFeed News that Lewandowski "does not have access" to Trump's Twitter account.
Those in the room who were expecting a detailed government relations pitch were taken aback by the claim, two sources familiar with the meetings said.
"It wasn't a question of whether they believed him or not," one of the sources said. "It was as weird as him walking into the office and saying, 'I like chocolate.'"
Ed Brookover, who recently joined Lewandowski's firm, said he had never heard the claim. "And we don't discuss what we say in pitch meetings," he said.
The companies too did not want to comment on the meetings, despite sources who were briefed confirming that meetings with individuals from those companies occurred.
Facebook declined to comment on whether they met with Lewandowski, but confirmed that he is not working for them.
And a Blackstone Group spokesperson said the firm did not engage in discussions about services from his new firm. Asked a broader follow-up question about any meetings with Lewandowski at all, the spokesperson repeated the same previous response.
Blackstone Group CEO Steve Schwarzman is the chairman of Trump's strategic and policy forum.
Trump's Twitter account has been central to his campaign and his presidency so far. The president makes policy announcements and responds to world events and criticism all through Twitter.
Trump has also gone after specific companies using his Twitter account, making corporate America nervous about their stock prices potentially crashing with a single tweet.
Lewandowski recently joined with another former Trump staffer, Barry Bennett, to open Avenue Strategies. Bennett was also Ben Carson's campaign manager last year.
Lewandowski, a hard-charging New Hampshire operative, has been touting his access to Trump — along with his firm's physical proximity to the White House — for weeks.
The pair told Bloomberg Businessweek they've already signed several clients since opening up their shop in December and disputed that their new roles conflict with Trump's "drain the swamp" campaign message.
"I think what Donald Trump said was, Washington lobbyists have used their special access to the detriment of the American people,” Lewandowski said in the interview. “Our goal here is to help companies grow and expand, which falls directly in line with the goals of this administration.”
Tarini Parti is a Capitol Hill reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Tarini Parti at email@example.com.
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