An insightful statement has emerged from the Donald Trump campaign. It concerns Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who was apparently fired from his post in June and then quickly signed on as a political commentator for CNN. A couple of weeks later, CNN self-disclosed that their new hire was receiving severance payments from the campaign. Those payments — $20,000 per month to Lewandowski’s Green Monster Consulting — continued in August, according to the latest round of campaign finance reports. In response to questions about the setup, the Trump campaign said:

Corey Lewandowski, who is no longer involved in the campaign, continues to receive monthly severance payments. The campaign will continue to honor its contract with Mr. Lewandowski, which stipulates he will be paid through the end of the year. These payments are in no way compensation for services rendered.

Bolding added to highlight a convenient circumstance. Hefty payments will continue to land in Lewandowski’s account for as long as the Trump campaign can benefit from the pro-Trump statements that he makes on air, very predictably. It’s apparent that Lewandowski is bound by the nondisclosure/nondisparagement clauses that Trump & Co. require of other employees, as we’ve discussed previously in this space. “The statement issued by the Trump campaign contains a serious omission,” says D.C. employment lawyer Debra Katz, of Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP. “It fails to note whether Lewandowski is bound by either a nondisparagement provision or confidentiality strictures of any other provision that bars him from speaking without fear of having his severance payments cut off. Until that question is answered, we can only infer that Lewandowski remains on a short leash.” Severance is quite commonly paid in a lump sum.

There’s a wrinkle here that merits further disclosure: In her experience, Katz has found that when organizations — like a campaign, presumably — want to muzzle a former employee, they may seed the separation agreement with what’s known as a “balloon” payment at the end of the severance term. It’s a large sum that acts as a “carrot,” in Katz’s phrasing, to ensure the loyalty and compliance of such an employee. The Erik Wemple Blog has asked both the Trump campaign and CNN if such an arrangement is in place for Lewandowski. Also: Has CNN even reviewed Lewandowski’s separation agreement with the Trump campaign?

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CNN has been stalwart and steadfast in not replying to such questions in regard to Lewandowski’s arrangement, even as it has covered in great detail the issues of transparency that have surfaced in the 2016 campaign. In a town-hall session with his own colleagues, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker justified Lewandowski’s hiring by citing the need to maintain balance within its commentator ranks, according to the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone. The network did reply quickly to one inquiry from the Erik Wemple Blog this morning, about a report from Mediaite indicating that Lewandowski had been suspended.

“Not true. He has NOT been suspended. And will be on air later today,” responded a CNN spokeswoman. Why can’t this network act on a good idea when it’s presented to them?

With its stubbornness on Lewandowski, CNN is sliding from an admirable objective — securing the input of Trump world on CNN programming — to an ethical no-no — paying sources for content. This is not a thought-scoop for the Erik Wemple Blog:

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