The discussions come amid a seemingly growing alliance between Trump and Ramaswamy, a wealthy businessman and conservative activist also seeking the Republican nomination. Ramaswamy has largely refrained from criticizing Trump. Just this week, he defended the former president after a New York City jury found him responsible for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll.
Ramaswamy has also become a persistent critic of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s chief rival.
Last week, Trump issued a statement praising Ramaswamy, saying: «What I like about Vivek is that he only has good things to say about ‘President Trump’ and all that the Trump Administration has done so successfully. «.
Spokesmen for the Trump campaign and the PAC for American Exceptionalism declined to comment. Lewandowski did not respond to a request for comment. It’s unclear if Lewandowski will ultimately join Super PAC, and if so, what exact role he would have.
Federal law prohibits Super PACs from directly coordinating with campaigns. And people familiar with the discussions say Trump simply did not raise any objections to Lewandowski joining the pro-Ramaswamy group, not as a means of placing him there to help his own electoral effort.
Still, Lewandowski’s presence on the American Exceptionalism PAC could have the effect of reinforcing Trump. With Lewandowski involved, top Republicans believe it would be inconceivable for the Super PAC to target the former president and would likely focus their fire elsewhere.
The American Exceptionalism PAC filed documents announcing its formation with the Federal Election Commission on February 17, just days before Ramaswamy launched his campaign. Since then, the organization has reported spending just under $90,000 to bolster Ramaswamy, in New Hampshire and Iowa.
Lewandowski has a long and complicated history with Trump. After serving as Trump’s campaign manager, he was fired in June 2016 as the then-candidate was preparing to run in the general election against Hillary Clinton. But Lewandowski remained a close ally and prominent Trump surrogate throughout his administration. After Trump left the White House, Lewandowski was chosen to head a pro-Trump super PAC.
But in September 2021, Lewandowski was ousted from the former president’s political orbit following allegations that he made unwanted sexual advances toward a major Trump donor during a charity dinner at a Las Vegas hotel. In September 2022, after being charged by prosecutors with misdemeanor assault, Lewandowski agreed to a deal in which he underwent eight hours of impulse control counseling, completed 50 hours of community service, and paid a fine of $1,000. Lewandowski did not have to admit guilt to him and, under the agreement, the charges would be dismissed once the conditions were met.
Lewandowski remained an ally of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and during a Republican Governors Association conference in Orlando, Florida, last November, he was seen in the governor’s entourage. For a while, Noem had been mentioned as a possible 2024 candidate, though she is no longer considered a likely candidate by mainstream Republicans.