Second top staffer exits Trump campaign amid shakeup

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Hunter Walker
·White House Correspondent
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Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Phoenix. (Photo: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)
Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Phoenix. (Photo: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

The shakeup in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign claimed a second victim on Monday.

The presumptive GOP nominee’s team started the day with the announcement that campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had been pushed aside. By Monday afternoon, a second aide, adviser Michael Caputo, was no longer with the campaign.

Caputo’s departure, which was first reported by CNN, came after he sent a tweet in which he declared, “Ding dong the witch is dead!” shortly after news of Lewandowski’s departure broke. Caputo told Yahoo News that he sent a resignation letter to the campaign, saying he wanted to step down because he recognized his tweet was a distraction.

“I regret sending out a tweet today alluding to the firing of Corey Lewandowski. In hindsight, that was too exuberant a reaction to this personnel move. I know this is a distraction from the kind of campaign you want to run, so I’m resigning my position as director of communications for caucus operations at the 2016 Republican Convention. Let’s make this immediate,” Caputo wrote in the letter, which was addressed to campaign chairman Paul Manafort and another aide.

A Trump campaign source told Yahoo News that Caputo did not resign willingly and was “fired” for his tweet about Lewandowski.

“Michael Caputo was fired this morning because he tweeted on Corey, which was not something that good people do,” the source said. “You know, good people do not go and step on a guy after he’s been knocked out and that was apparently what he was doing so he was discharged this morning.”

Caputo told Yahoo that he “said everything I wanted to say in that letter” and had no further comment on the matter. However, he specifically denied the claim that he was fired.

“I’m not going to give into all that. I resigned,” Caputo said, adding, “Unforced errors have no place in this campaign.”

Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News about Caputo’s departure.

Lewandowski was often a distraction for the campaign and reports repeatedly suggested an ongoing feud between him and Manafort. Earlier in the year, he was charged with misdemeanor battery for allegedly grabbing a reporter, but the charge was dropped. Lewandowski did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Yahoo News on Monday about his exit from the campaign, but in a pair of television interviews, he suggested that it was amicable.