When a man like Donald Trump decides to run for office, his campaign’s first order of business is to compile all possible attacks that the other side can use against him, to prepare counter-attacks and learn the full extent of damage any rival can inflict. According to a bombshell report from Bloomberg News’s Kevin Cirilli, Trump himself shot down his staff’s requests to do this pivotal self-opposition research, thus opening himself to scandals like the Access Hollywood outrage and worse.
“Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first campaign manager, requested that Trump submit himself to a forensic evaluation that is traditional for any public figure seeking office, according to people granted anonymity to speak freely about the campaign’s start-up days last year,” Cirilli reported Thursday. “Opposition research would allow Trump’s new political team to prepare for potential attacks on his candidacy.”
The Washington Post published a tape of remarks Trump made to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in 2005, where the billionaire infamously described how women would allow him to abuse them, even going so far as to let him “grab them by the p***y.” On Wednesday, both The New York Times and People magazine reported allegations from women who say Trump sexually abused them. The candidate flatly denied these accusations.
Even in denying the accusations, however, Trump opened himself to more criticism about sexism. He implied that he did not consider People writer Natasha Stoynoff enticing enough to sexually assault.
Yeah, Trump just basically said that People writer Natasha Stoynoff is too ugly for him to sexually assault pic.twitter.com/xggNicNIcb
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 13, 2016
Had the campaign been allowed to investigate Trump’s past, it might have discovered some of these damning stories, and prepared the right responses to them. Instead, fallout from the Access Hollywood comments have severely damaged Trump’s credibility, as concerns created an avalanche of criticism from more than 40 elected members of his party (including House Speaker Paul Ryan).
But Trump’s aversion to in-house opposition research was not limited to Corey Lewandowski’s time in leadership.
Next Page: How Trump shot down Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, even Kellyanne Conway on this vital issue of preparedness.
When Paul Manafort took over leadership from Lewandowski, he too wanted to perform opposition research, but Trump shut him down as well. “The issue became a point of contention among his closest political advisers and some long-time employees at the Trump Organization,” Cirilli added.
Trump’s dislike for opposition research traces back to December 2013, when the real estate tycoon considered a run for governor in New York. At the time, Cirilli reported, Trump advisers Roger Stone and Michael Cohen advised the would-be candidate to undergo forensic research, but Trump refused.
According to Cirilli, the Republican National Committee (RNC) actually did conduct opposition research on Trump, along with the other members of the Republican field, but the results yielded nothing substantial. The 2005 Access Hollywood tape first made public by The Washington Post last week did not emerge. (But that is no surprise, since it hadn’t yet been made public.)
Despite Trump’s protestations, Lewandowski did prepare research on the issue of Trump’s support for the Iraq War and the billionaire’s previous donations to Democratic candidates in the past.
Even today, top campaign officials are in the dark about their candidate’s dark secrets. “I don’t know what’s out there,” admitted Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s current campaign manager as of August, in remarks on Fox News Wednesday. “There’s no way for me to know what is and isn’t out there.”
While it may be uncomfortable to unearth the skeletons in your closet, any good Boy Scout knows to “be prepared.” Unfortunately, Trump is no Boy Scout, and this key oversight might just cost Republicans the presidency.