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Corey Lewandowski’s surreal ‘Everything is Awesome’ interview

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump fired embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on June 20. (Video: The Washington Post)
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Donald Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Monday after months of tensions between Lewandowski and Trump convention manager Paul Manafort. The move reportedly came at the urging of Trump's children -- most notably his daughter, Ivanka. Lewandowski sat down with CNN's Dana Bash for an interview on Monday after his dismissal. It's was, um, a bizarre conversation in which Lewandowski  repeatedly suggested everything was going awesomely! and praised Trump time and time again.  Using Genius, I annotated it. You can too! Sign up for Genius and annotate alongside me! To see an annotation, click or tap the highlighted part of the transcript.

BASH: And Corey Lewandowski is here with me. Thank you very much for coming in. So many questions to ask. First, from your perspective, what happened? Why were you fired?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't know. I don't know the answer to that. But what I know is what we've been able to achieve in this election cycle has been historic. You know, we had a candidate who in June of last year announced he was going to run for president with no elected office experience, in a field of 16 other people in the race plus him, who's gone on to do something historic, which was get almost 14 million votes and fundamentally changed the way people look at politics.

And I'm proud to have been a small part of that. And running as the outsider of this campaign, which he has done, running against the corrupt Washington, D.C., establishment and political correctness has been something I've been proud to be a part of.

Things change as the campaign evolves and a general campaign against a very well-funded giant organization like the Clinton campaign is very different than running against those smaller primary state elections. Even when it was a big day.

BASH: So you think it was appropriate for Donald Trump to make the change and let you go?

LEWANDOWSKI: What I think is that the voters have a binary decision coming up on election day. They can either vote for Hillary Clinton and her liberal policies or they can put someone in place who's actually to change Washington. And I will do everything I can to make sure that the latter of those two happens, which means, Donald Trump is elected president. If I can do that inside the campaign, it's a privilege. If I can do that outside the campaign, that's also a privilege.

BASH: Did Mr. Trump himself call you this morning and say -- I don't mean to use this term, but it is the term, "You're fired"?

LEWANDOWSKI: I had a nice conversation with Mr. Trump and I said to him it's been an honor and a privilege to be part of this. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I think as you look at how small this team has been and how close-knit this team has been, it's really important to know that there are highs and lows in every campaign and we've been through them together. And in order to be successful, we need to continue to build that team and build those relationships with the RNC and utilize the resources that they have available to us.

So that is where the campaign is going, and it's been a great privilege. And look, I wouldn't change one second. The hardest part for me has been just not being able to spend the time with my family that I want over the last 18 or 19 months, but I would not look back. I have no regrets. It's such a privilege and an honor to have been a very small part of this, to learn and experience what he's been able to achieve and the electoral success that he's had. It's been truly amazing.

BASH: Were you surprised? Were you blindsided?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't know if it's so much of that. I mean, you know, there's been a lot of conjecture in the media lately about what's going on well and what isn't going on well in the campaign. I think a lot of that is just the media trying to hype up a campaign. You know, what we have is we've got a candidate on the other side who's under criminal investigation from the FBI that most of the mainstream doesn't want to talk about. Instead they want to talk about things that Donald Trump did or said 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. And even when he gives a great policy speech, and he's probably the best speaker that, you know, our country has ever seen as a presidential candidate, he doesn't get credit for those things.

BASH: I want to get into some of the specifics about how the campaign was run and where you are right now. But before that, were you escorted out of the building by security today?

LEWANDOWSKI: I'd say it doesn't work like that. I mean, obviously, there are protocols in place that when someone is no longer an employee, they just make sure -- there's no escorting out. And, look, I've had the privilege of working with these people for 19 months. They're friends of mine. But there's a protocol and everyone follows the same protocol regardless of who that is and I think that's the right thing.

BASH: So yes, you were, but that was part of the protocol.

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, it wasn't security. I was a friend from the office.

BASH: OK. Let's get to what went on inside the campaign. Sources who I've talked to and others have talked to said that they described you as a hothead and that you just didn't treat people right. What do you say to that?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think I'm a very intense person. And my expectation is perfection because I think it's what Mr. Trump deserves. I think he deserves the very best because he has put his life and his fortune into this campaign, spending tens of millions of dollars to go do something that, candidly, he didn't need to do. He's had a great life but he wants to change the country for the better. And I see how hard he has worked in this campaign. He works 18, 19, 20 hours a day consistently.

BASH: But this has been -- but the question is about you.

LEWANDOWSKI: Because -- I understand. Because leadership starts at the top and I see what he's put into the campaign and when I see someone who I don't think is working as hard as the person who's funding the campaign, who's the campaign principal, meaning the candidate, yes, that bothers me. Because leadership is at the top. And I've never asked somebody to do something in this campaign I wasn't willing to do myself and Mr. Trump has never asked me to do something he wasn't willing to do himself.

You know, I've had the privilege of traveling with him a lot and he doesn't sleep on the plane; he just works all the time. That's the mindset and the tenacity and the intensity he would bring to being the President of the United States. And I think you can expect that out of people. We don't have -- we never had 700 people at the campaign. We ran that campaign with 70 people -- more efficient, more effective, leaner, meaner. Does that mean sometimes you need people to do extra and stay late and get in early? You bet you do.

BASH: OK, I want to get that to that in a minute. I just also want to put up on the screen -- I don't know if you've seen this but oOne of the senior advisors forMr. Trump put out a tweet almost immediately after you were fired. Michael Caputo. "Ding dong, the witch is dead."

That doesn't happen, Corey; as you know, you've worked in a lot of campaigns. I don't mean that -- to put that up to be hurtful to you, but it's just the reality.

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, let's just be clear. Michael Caputo isn't a senior adviser. He has no formal role with the campaign. He's a volunteer. And so he doesn't get paid by the campaign. He has no formal role with the campaign.


BASH: But for anybody involved with the campaign and wants the best for Donald Trump --

LEWANDOWSKI: He's not involved with the --

BASH: -- as you do, to put that out?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, people are entitled to their own opinions.

BASH: I wouldn't have put that up had I not -- had it not been kind of a narrative that we were hearing, and I'm sure that's why you wanted to come on, to try to push back on a lot of that.

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think in all campaigns, you've got detractors and you've got supporters. That's the nature of the beast. And I think if you went out and talked -- look, I don't know Michael Caputo. He's a volunteer who's been to the campaign for three or four weeks. I think he's actually in Cleveland; I don't really know what he does for the campaign. But if you talk to the people who have been here from the beginning, when you look at state directors who've been here from the beginning, the people who have been in the trenches, who understand and have seen Mr. Trump's work ethic and what he's been able to accomplish in their states, whether it's in New Hampshire or Nevada, South Carolina, Iowa, or any of those early states where no one gave him a chance and he went out and became successful and became the Republican nominee -- I think if you asked them, they'd stand toe to toe with me any day of the week and 20 hours a day to make sure that they had the same work ethic I do. And I think that's what I try to foster with the people I've worked with.

BASH: Now, sources from the campaign, from in and around the campaign, have told us they thought that you were feeding Mr. Trump's worst instincts. In that, you know, he -- one of your lines is "Let Trump be Trump", right? But that if there was a plan in place, post- primary, now that he's trying to pivot to the general, is in the general, that you would get on the plane with him and undercut that plan and bring out his worst instincts.

How do you respond to that?

LEWANDOWSKI: Like I say, what vested interest would I have in doing that? I think what you have to remember --

BASH: I think the act -- the suggestion is it's just -- it's who you are.

LEWANDOWSKI: Yes, but, look, if Donald Trump wins, that's good for Corey Lewandowski and it's good for the country. And so when you think about it, why would I want to do anything other than what's in the very best interest of him in this campaign for the good of the country? I've given up 19 months of my life and my family and all of the other things to make sure that he's in the best possible position.

And I'm not the only one. There are many people who have done that. So for anyone to insinuate that I wouldn't want what's very best for him --


LEWANDOWSKI: Does that mean every time he asks me something, do I push back on it? No. Because, candidly, he has had his finger on the pulse of the American public for the last 16 or 18 months of this campaign and he has seen things that I didn't see, and he knows how to message things that I don't know how to do.

BASH: Should you have pushed back more in recent weeks now that it's a totally different ball game?

LEWANDOWSKI: No. It's important to push back on issues that are important. And I think you have to be selective when you do that. Mr. Trump has unparalleled success in the business world. He's now unparalleled success in the world of politics. And I think when he presents an idea, some ideas are very, very good and they should move forward. Some are pretty good and those should move forward. And the ones that I raelly take exception to, if they are there, I let my opinion be known. And anybody who knows me knows that I don't just give a yes answer. I give my opinion, probably to my own detriment too many times, and I will fight for my opinions forcefully. Doesn't mean I'm always right; doesn't mean I'm always wrong. But what I do say is, I think this is what we should do at this time. At the end of the day, there's one person who makes the decision on this campaign as it goes forward and it should be that way.

BASH: And you mentioned that somebody -- people he didn't see eye to eye with. Let's talk about Paul Manafort. There has been a lot of discussion; I know it's out in the media. But, you know, I think it would be hard for you to say that it's not real, that there was a lot of real tension. What are you -- what was the relationship with him?

LEWANDOWSKI: So I'll say this about Paul. When Paul first came in, he was going to manage the delegate process. And then we were fortunate enough to secure enough delegates that we didn't need a delegate manager. Since that time, Paul and I have gotten along amazingly well and I know the media doesn't want to report that, but we work side by side, talking on a daily basis, multiple times a day. He had his roles which he was going to oversee on the campaign. I had a very separate function, which included making sure that Mr. Trump's schedule goes accordingly. Fundraising side of things, right? We divided things accordingly and we had a great relationship. There was no animosity between Paul and I. I know the media doesn't want to report it, but that's the truth.

BASH: I mean, forgive me for being skeptical, but it's hard to believe that -- that it was as sort of as rsoy and happy as you're describing when there's so much discussion of dysfunction.

LEWANDOWSKI: (INAUDIBLE). The campaign has been so small, that bringing in a professional in like Paul helped us grow the campaign. And we need ten more of these. The campaign needs to continue to grow to be successful. So everything that Paul did for the campaign was one less thing I had to do. And I'm thankful for that. Believe me!

BASH: And he's still there and you're not, so it's hard to see this as -- as anything other than, you know, like a power struggle and he won?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't think that's the case. You know what I think? I think that this campaign is going to continue to grow. I think Donald Trump is going to be the next President of the United States. If there's anything to do to make help make that happen, whether that's advice to Paul, advice to Mr. Trump, or advice anywhere along the line, I'll be happy to do that.

BASH: Let's talk about Mr. Trump's family. My understanding -- and others here are reporting -- is that his children were very forceful in saying "It's time for Corey Lewandowski to leave." Does that surprise you?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I can say I've always had a great relationship with the family and I think I continue to do so.

Look, everybody has their own opinions and I think what you have is a transition in the campaign from a very, very successful 37-state primary victory process, which was managed at a one-off level on the states, or on a multi-state, to look to a bigger picture. And that's OK. There's nothing wrong with that. So more ideas, more people who are giving input, I think that's great. That's important.

You know, I'm an implementer. That's what I try to do. I try and take those ideas which have been laid out and implement them to the best of our ability, and I think that's the most important thing. And that includes the kids' input, it includes other professionals' input, it includes elected officials' input; it includes the D.C. people's input. I try and implement what I think -- what the collective organization is best for the campaign. That's all I try and do.

BASH: Our understanding is that Ivanka Trump's husband, Jared Kushner, has been much more involved and was intimately involved in saying it's time for you, for Corey, to go. Can you tell me about your relationship with him? LEWANDOWSKI: I've had a great relationship with Jared. He's helped us from the onset of having a better online presence. Being aggressive, in a good way, of getting us to have a stronger social media presence. Making sure that we're posting on our Facebook page. He understands a different component than I understand. So he's very, very good in that regard and he's very good at moving the campaign forward in that regard. I think it's been a great relationship, so I'm not sure where that's coming from but he's someone --

BASH: But we have some reporting that he found out that you were trying to plant some not-so-nice stories about him. Is that true?

LEWANDOWSKI: I have no interest of doing that. Again, my goal from this campaign, from day one, is to get Mr. Trump elected President of the United States. I've been privileged enough --

BASH: So that's not true.

LEWANDOWSKI: Absolutely not.

BASH: You weren't trying to undermine him?

LEWANDOWSKI: What I want to do is get Mr. Trump to be the President of the United States. That was -- that's been my job and only goal. And that includes focusing on my job.

Look, the job as a campaign manager for a presidential campaign -- and 16 other guys on the Republican side have had this as well -- is to go and implement the best policies for the campaign and build a long-term team, so that, come November 8th, you can be successful. Sixteen other campaign managers tried this and weren't successful. I was privileged enough to be successful because we have the best candidate. We have the best speaker; we have the best -- we have the person who gets the biggest crowds who won 37 states and primaries and caucuses around the country. So that's really important to remember.

BASH: Two more people and then I want to get to that strategy. Ivanka Trump.

LEWANDOWSKI: Great asset to the campaign. I mean --

BASH: Would you be surprised if you heard that she was not thrilled with the job that you were doing?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't think that's the case. I think Ivanka is somebody who understands her father and is a fantastic surrogate for the campaign. She brings a sense of calmness to the campaign. She has a way about her that she connects immediately not just with women but with business executives. She's so polished, so professional. It's been an honor to be able to work with her for the 1ast 18 months.

BASH: OK, let's talk a little bit about the roles that you did have. And we talked a lot about personnel, but about the strategy and about what did not seem to be working that well.

Just, for example, there's new polling out today of Monmouth that has Mr. Trump down 7 points, 47 percent to 40 percent. Do you feel that, as your role as campaign manager, part of the issue was that the campaign wasn't managed correctly in terms of what he needs to do? Forget about the personnel inside, but to win the White House?

LEWANDOWSKI: No. I think what the strategy has been is looking to expand the map from what a traditional Republican campaign would look like. And so if you look four years ago at the states that Mitt Romney lost, states like Florida and Virginia and Pennsylvania, those are places that Donald Trump is going to win. And that fundamentally changes the outcome of this election.

So national polls, while they are important, you know what? What's more important are the state-specific polls. And if you look at states like New Jersey where Donald Trump is winning, in Florida where Donald Trump is winning, Ohio where he's winning or within the margin.

BASH: What makes you think he's winning?

LEWANDOWSKI: If you look at the public polls. Go to RealClearPolitics, you can look at the polls in those respective states. It's one or two points on either side, within the margin, and those are the states that are going to make a difference.

And so, you know, if you want to go and poll the people of Alaska, or you want to poll the people of Idaho, you know, those are all inclusive in those respective national polls. But a presidential election is traditionally run (INAUDIBLE) national scale, it's done in ten or 11 states. Mr. Trump's going to run it in a much bigger place, because he has the ability to turn those traditional blue states like Pennsylvania red again.

BASH: Well, let's talk about that. Because the only way to do that, in a traditional campaign -- we know that he's not a traditional candidate; certainly didn't have a traditional structure in the primaries -- but is to build a network, to have field staff. And to do that you have to raise money, if you're not going to self fund, which he's not in the general.

My understanding is that there's no fundraising network and that you are relying, the campaign is relying a lot on the RNC infrastructure. But that was your job, right? To fundraise.

LEWANDOWSKI: Let me touch on it. We started raising money in the last 30 days or so, because Mr. Trump has self-funded his campaign through the primary, of which we are still part of right now. And Mr. Trump is raising money for the RNC, for their infrastructure, which means their data programs, their field staff. They've got 500 field staff in place right now. Four years ago, the RNC had four field staff in place in the key battleground states.

BASH: Right. No, I understand that you're -- it's a different model. You're relying on the RNC and I've done reporting on that. But this is more of a question about the fact that they still need Donald Trump and the Trump campaign to raise money.

LEWANDOWSKI: And he's done that. And if you look at what he did in the last four days, going through Texas and North Carolina and Georgia and Las Vegas and Arizona, he raised $12 million to $15 million for the party in a four-day swing. That money goes to the joint fundraising agreement so that -- the joint fundraising committee so that the RNC will have the resources necessary to put the boots on the ground, to enhance their data program, to make sure that they have all of the resources necessary.

BASH: What I'd heard from a source familiar with this is that part of the trouble that he had with fundraising is that the donors didn't respond to you. Donors are used to being coddled --

LEWANDOWSKI: That's not true. Look, the money is pouring in.

BASH: And that they got calls --

LEWANDOWSKI: The money is pouring in. When he went out to California and did one event, and I think he raised $6 million or $8 million in one evening in California. And what you saw -- what you have seen in the last four or five days, and Reince Priebus was on this trip to Texas, and I think the goal at one particular event was to raise $2 million. They raised $3.5 million.

BASH: So you're telling me that we're going to see --

LEWANDOWSKI: They're exceeding expectations.

BASH: We're going to see more money raised than people are describing or saying?

LEWANDOWSKI: Absolutely. Not just that, but the money is pouring in. People want to come on board. They want to join the Trump organization. They want to join the Trump train because they know thatif Hillary Clinton is elected President of the United States, it would be four more years of the Obama administration.

BASH: But you have that kind of money. My question is, the Clinton campaign has $40 million in ads and has bought ad time for the next six weeks. Donald Trump and his campaign, zero.

LEWANDOWSKI: Well, that's right.

BASH: But if you had that kind of money and organization, why wouldn't you -- why would leave the airwaves to her?

LEWANDOWSKI: Jeb Bush spent $228 (ph) million -- Jeb Bush spent $228 million, or $158 million dollars, running for president in the primary, spending money on major media investments of which did not do him any good. Did not win one state in the primary. We saw Scott Walker do the same thin where he reserved $7 million in ad time and didn't spend the money.

BASH: But you said the primary is a totally different world.

LEWANDOWSKI: It is a completely different thing. But what you have to understand is Donald Trump has the ability to bypass the mainstream media if he wants to go directly to the people. That's something he's done very successful, and he continues to do that. And that's something that the mainstream media doesn't like, but he can go directly to Twitter or to his Facebook account or his Instagram, where he's got 20 million plus people already following him, and get the message out.

Now that's not to say he won't do advertising. Because of course he will. But the difference is you can't just look dollar for dollar of what is being spent by campaign to another campaign, because if money was a metric of success, Donald Trump would not be the Republican nominee right now. Jeb Bush would have been.

BASH: No question. I totally --

LEWANDOWSKI: Or Ted Cruz, or all these people who out-raised him.

BASH: I'm with you on that. But now you had the ability to get the entirety of the Republican Party, the infrastructure, behind Donald Trump.

LEWANDOWSKI: And they are.

BASH: Money and -- but not really. I mean -- if they're --

LEWANDOWSKI: Look who's behind Donald Trump. Mitch McConnell's behind him; Speaker Ryan's behind him. Reince Priebus is behind him.

BASH: Half-heartedly.

LEWANDOWSKI: Yes, they're raising money.

BASH: But not Reince in that. But --

LEWANDOWSKI: Reince is raising money. The party is raising money. Mr. Trump is raising money for the party.

BASH: But he's not making it easy for them.

LEWANDOWSKI: That's not true at all. That's not true at all. Mr. Trump has sat down and had meetings with all kinds of people who want to be part of this campaign, and we put a plan in place with the RNC so that they can have the resources necessary. Now, Mr. Trump could be raising this money for the campaign but he said, no, I want to give the money to the party. I want to make sure that the party has the resources and the boots on the ground and the data programs and the build-out so that they can be successful.

The difference was, four years ago, Romney has his whole team of fundraising and bundlers and the RNC had their whole team of fundraising and bundlers, and when you go into the states, there were two very separate groups of people there. You ahd the Romney people and you had the RNC people with different styles. We're completely integrated. It's a very different model and it's much more efficient than it was four years ago.

BASH: OK, so you're telling me that, at the end of the day, we're going to see fundraising better than it seems to be now and the infrastructure better.

But actually before I go to the -- another question I'm going to ask, I want to ask about infrastructure. Because I had reporting that the campaign had 70 people. Other reporting said it was low as 30. That's nothing. And I know you're saying it's a different world. Donald Trump is different. But, again, I just come back to the fact that this is not a primary campaign. You need to reach hundreds of millions of people, not a small slice of the electorate.

LEWANDOWSKI: Hillary Clinton had 732 people on the Clinton payroll at the same time Donald Trump had 70 people on the payroll. We had more votes, almost 14 million votes in the primary, than any other Republican candidate.

BASH: But this is not a primary campaign.

LEWANDOWSKI: I understand. But here's the difference. Her salaries that are covered by their -- have to be 10x what our salaries are, as a comparison. So what they're doing is they're taking money and spending it on things. We are leaner, meaner, more efficient, more effective. Get bigger crowds. Get better coverage. It's very important to understand that Mr. Trump can go directly to the people and that's not what Hillary has to do.

BASH: So you're -- is you're --

LEWANDOWSKI: They're going to waste millions of dollars on paid advertising, which consultants and others are going to make a fortune on. That's not the Trump model.

BASH: So your philosophy is that you should continue to stay lean and mean.

LEWANDOWSKI: No, I think you have to grow, but you have to grow smart and strategic and efficient. Look, if this was the business world, people would be commending Mr. Trump for the way he's run this campaign. That on $50 million he beat candidates who've raised three times that, and in Hillary's case and Bernie's case, four and five times that. The difference in politics is they think money equates to votes, and it's been proven time and time again that the amount of money you spend does not equate to the amount of votes you get.

BASH: Corey, you're painting a very nice picture of the Trump campaign and the state of play. If it was that way, why wouldn't you still be the campaign manager?

LEWANDOWSKI: I'm proud of the campaign. I really am. But I also understand the reality of building an infrastructure, coupled with the RNC's 500 people on the ground and all the resources necessary --

BASH: But why couldn't you be the person to do it? Why do you think that you were not the person to do it?

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I don't know the answer to that. But what I know is --

BASH: What do you think?

LEWANDOWSKI: I know I've had a great privilege and an honor of being part of this for the last 18 or 19 months. And I have no regrets and I'm so thankful for this chance. And I know that what I will do moving forward is share my advice of what I know with Mr. Trump and the team if they want it. I will still chair the New Hampshire delegation to the RNC convention next month. And I can tell you that me and every person I know will continue to vote for and support Donald Trump.

BASH: You're such a good soldier.

LEWANDOWSKI: In any way possible.

BASH: You're such a good soldier, and your loyalty here is exactly why -- one of the main reasons why Mr. Trump kept you on for so long.

LEWANDOWSKI: It's not just loyalty.

BASH: And belief in him.

LEWANDOWSKI: It's a true difference.

BASH: And belief in him. I get that. But I guess my question is, somebody tuning in to watch this might be thinking that they're, you know, on another planet because you're making it seem like everything was really great, and I get that that's your, you know, your instinct because you've been so loyal to him. But it just doesn't make sense in a logical way, if things were that great, why you would not still be over at Trump Tower.

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, the campaign is moving in the right direction. That's the most important thing. And building out that campaign is something that's very important to do. And I can tell you, again, I'll give any advice I can to the campaign, but at the end of the day, voters are going to have to make a choice. They're going to choose Hillary Clinton or they're going to choose Donald Trump.

BASH: Two more questions.

LEWANDOWSKI: And they've got to choose Trump if they want to save our country.

BASH: OK, two more questions. We were talking about structure, but you were also in charge of communications. When Mr. Trump said this is the speech I'm going to give after Orlando, and he was doubling down on the Muslim ban, and he ended up delivering a speech that was, by Republicans, almost universally thought what was that? And panned. How involved were you and were you encouraging him to do that?

LEWANDOWSKI: I don't think that's true. I think what he has said, and has been given a lot of credit for, stepping up and making a speech immediately after the terrorist attack and calling it what it was, which is radical Islamic terrorism. And you know what?

BASH: That's not what I'm talking about. LEWANDOWSKI: People don't want --


BASH: I'm talking about the policy prescription.

LEWANDOWSKI: I understand. Look.

BASH: But did you encourage him to do that? Did you say this is right on?

LEWANDOWSKI: I think we have a problem in the country. And it's very clear.

BASH: You're not going to answer my question.

LEWANDOWSKI: No, we have a problem and he's the only one who's going to point it out. Whether it's political correctness, it's a problem. Not turning people in because they're afraid of that they're going to be accused of being racially profiling. We saw this in San Bernardino and the attacks where the neighbors knew the people were making bombs on their -- in their home, but refused to turn them in because they were afraid they were going to be called racial profiling.

We have to get away from this. We have to save our country. We have to save our people. If that means turning someone, whether -- regardless of who they are --

BASH: So you think that his po1icy and rhetorical response to Orlando was right? If you were to rewind and you had a time machine, you could do it all over again, would you do it the same way?

LEWANDOWSKI: Here's what I think. I think our immigration policies are a disaster, right? What we know is that we can't even vet people coming into this country whether they're Syrian refugees or they're people coming in from any other country. We can't even do a simple background check.

What we know is that the San Bernardino killer came in on a K-1 visa. She was married to an American citizen. But the State Department said we can't go and look at your Facebook and social media accounts to determine if you have any jihad terrorist in you. There's something fundamentally wrong with our government that can't do that to protect our own citizens. And I think we need to have a better system in place, and I think what Donald Trump has said is he will fix that system on day one of him becoming the next President of the United States.

BASH: Can you take me behind the scenes also on the comments he made about the judge? You were on the plane. Did you say to him, you know what, Mr. Trump, you might not want to go that far. And you might not want to say those things about something that is so explosive. Or did you say, right on?

LEWANDOWSKI: No, no. It's not a binary decision. What it comes down to very clearly is you have a judge in San Diego who has ruled against him on summary judgment, which the case should have been dismissed on. He allowed the lead plaintiff in this case to get out of the case and continue the case, right? Here's been time and time and time again, Mr. Trump has over 10,000 people who have provided evaluations saying that this is a great institution. He went out and found scholars from the best institutions to put the courses together.

BASH: So it sounds like you said right on

LEWANDOWSKI: And the judge refuses to make rulings which are fair and equitable. And that's what we're calling into question, is the fairness of this. And so when you have the lead plaintiff asked to be removed from the case, when you have over 10,000 respondents, 98 percent of the people who took the courses responded favorably, whether on video or in written evaluation or in some cases both, including some of the plaintiffs in this case, right?

What these people want is they want to go after Mr. Trump because they see deep pockets. And the judge should have ruled on summary judgment this case be dismissed.

BASH: That's not about the judge.

LEWANDOWSKI: He's calling into question -- he's calling into question his ability to give a fair and honest assessment of the evidence which is presented to him, and I think that's OK to do.

BASH: So you were -- did anybody come out and say, you know what -- did anybody have a conversation as part of a campaign meeting or anything of that sort saying, you know what, this is probably something he should pull back on? And you said, no, no, no. Right on. Go for it?

LEWANDOWSKI: No, it wasn't a conversation like that. You know, everyone has their opportunity to weigh in on issues and that could be, you know, what we like to call surround sound advocacy. Right? Everyone has the opportunity to sit down and have that conversation.

At the end of the day, Mr. Trump has the final decision.

BASH: You know why I'm asking you these questions, because I'm trying to get some specifics about, you know, kind of the -- one of the raps on you is that you fed his worst instincts.

LEWANDOWSKI: Look, I think if that's the rap that they want to tell me, or put on me, I think what's fair to say is anybody who knows me and has known me over a long period of time knows that I'm a very straight shooter. Much to my own detriment on many occasions. I tell people the way it is whether it's good or bad or indifferent, because I always say I'm not smart enough to lie, because I can't remember the lie I told.

So what I say is I give you my best opinion, my best recommendation. That's my duty and my obligation to anybody I work for, whether it's Mr. Trump or a different company. All I can do is give my best advice and counsel. Doesn't mean it's right. Doesn't mean it's wrong. But I'm going to give you my best advice, and if my best advice is something you agree with, great. If you disagree, that's OK too. And we've had many conversations where Mr. Trump and I have either agreed or disagreed, but at the end of the day I don't take it personally. I just give my best advice and that's the job of any good staffer.

BASH: What's your biggest regret?

LEWANDOWSKI: On this campaign? None professionally.

BASH: None?

LEWANDOWSKI: My biggest regret --

BASH: That's not even -- that's -- I mean, I know that you're human. There's flesh and blood. You've got to have some regrets.

LEWANDOWSKI: My biggest regret on the campaign is not being able to have my family more involved. You know, my family lives in New Hampshire. I've got four young children. You know, it's tough on them because they're 5 and 7 and 9 years old. They're great ages and they still want me to be around, which is fun. Campaigns are so all- consuming; they're so time consuming. It's difficult to go home and explain what your day was like.

That's not a regret at all. I have no regrets as it comes to this campaign. I've been given such an opportunity and a privilege. And if somebody would've said to me 18 months ago, you'll be managing the candidate through 37 state victories, 14 million votes, more votes than anyone in the history of the Republican Party, I would say, is that possible? And look what he's been able to achieve, and I've been a small part of that.

So I have no regrets at all.

BASH: And you're still going to be involved in that you are still the head of the New Hampshire delegation. You will be leading the New Hampshire delegation on the floor of the convention.

LEWANDOWSKI: And I will make sure that every delegate there is voting for Donald Trump and every person I know is going to vote Donald Trump come this November.

BASH: Corey, thank you for doing this. I really appreciate it.


BASH: Thank you for your time.