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Donald Trump on his campaign staff: "People that aren't so smart"

Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski stands with Trump supporters.
Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski stands with Trump supporters.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Ignore my campaign staff; sometimes they "aren't so smart," Donald Trump told supporters during a closed conference call Monday.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who was on the call, informed Trump that his staff had instructed campaign surrogates like her to shy away from commenting on his inflammatory remarks on US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the presiding judge on the Trump University lawsuit whom Trump called biased because he is Mexican.

According to the campaign email, obtained by Bloomberg, surrogates were told "they're not authorized to discuss matters concerning the Trump Organization including corporate news such as the Trump University case," adding that "the best possible response is ‘the case will be tried in the courtroom in front of a jury — not in the media.'"

The order was sent out by email by staffer Erica Freeman. It was also copied to Trump's loyal campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, his campaign chair's top aide, Rick Gates, and his top communications lead, Hope Hicks, Bloomberg reported.

Trump didn't approve.

"Take that order and throw it the hell out," Trump said on the call, according to Bloomberg's anonymous sources on the call.

"Are there any other stupid letters that were sent to you folks?" Trump said. "That's one of the reasons I want to have this call, because you guys are getting sometimes stupid information from people that aren't so smart."

Trump values loyalty above all

The same day Trump privately derided his campaign staff, he publicly praised them:

A few hours later on a private call, he said to ignore their direction, questioning their intelligence to a group of supporters and campaign surrogates.

Saying his own advisers aren't so smart might seem like a puzzling strategy. But in Trump's book, the "great" and "best" advisers are those who follow his lead.

He keeps loyalists the closest, propping up those who let Trump be Trump. It's his campaign manager Lewandowski's motto, and likely why Trump has gone to great lengths to support him (even when he was charged with assaulting a campaign reporter).

Those on the campaign who go against Trump's word get cut from the inner circle. Remember when Paul Manafort, his current campaign chair, had a brief stint as campaign manager and privately told Republicans that Trump would be more "presidential" once he became the official nominee? There is a reason he's not the campaign manager anymore.

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