Donald Trump has long been noted for being fiercely loyal to those who do right by him. Thus, it came as no surprise to longtime friends and advisers that he stood by embattled campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after the Mainstream Media accused Lewandowski of manhandling a female reporter during a press scrum even though video appears to show whatever interaction occurred between the two fell far short of the allegations an assault took place.

What Mr. Trump doesn’t abide is repeated incompetence though, and it is THAT violation that is said to have now placed Lewandowski dangerously close to Trump’s “gotta go” list.

There have long been complaints of Lewandowski’s often blunt approach to politicking. That wasn’t an issue for the often equally blunt Donald Trump. Plus, as the primary season progressed, Trump was racking up repeated wins and extending his delegate lead over his GOP rivals, so scrutiny upon the internal workings of the campaign were apparently not a priority for the New York billionaire. He simply focused on a state primary, won it, and then moved on to the next.

Then two critical things happened that placed Mr. Lewandowski on Trump’s reassessment radar – a meeting in Washington D.C. and a primary election.

The first was the most recent sit down between Trump and RNC Chair, Reince Priebus. While Trump told media it was a “great” meeting, privately he is said to have left RNC headquarters initially stunned and then increasingly angered over how his campaign operatives were clearly slow to act in protecting the very delegates he as the leading candidate, had won. The business tycoon was being outflanked by a long-corrupted political system and he knew it.

This anger simmered while the relationship between Trump and Lewandowski allegedly cooled as the campaign then focused upon the Wisconsin primary where a perfect storm of state and national GOP operatives, donors, and media were united in using Ted Cruz as the tool to deliver a resounding defeat to the New York billionaire.

Trump once again found himself having to be the campaign’s ground game as he crisscrossed the northern Midwest state attempting to overcome the focused Establishment powers working so aggressively against him.

The Establishment won.

Then came a much-needed return to New York and a private sit-down with new campaign hire, Paul Manafort who had by then already spent a number of days assessing the campaign’s overall strengths and weaknesses. Mr. Manafort apparently found little to like, and a lot to fault – and proceeded to share that opinion with a still uncertain and frustrated GOP front runner.

Sources indicate a repeated plea from Manafort was that Corey Lewandowski’s role be quickly and quietly diminished because the entirety of the campaign was teetering on total collapse beneath the onslaught of a GOP Machine far more experienced in foisting its candidate of choice regardless of the actual will of Republican voters.

“You’re winning the votes but losing the nomination.”

Trump is said to have listened and then agreed, with the caveat that Lewandowski not be made to feel lessened by the restructuring – the loyalty, at least remnants of it, remained intact within Mr. Trump’s assessment of the situation.

For now.

The Trump campaign is quickly forming into a Manafort operation vs a Lewandowski operation, though Trump supporters fear it might prove too little too late. Trump has taken to resting up the last few days, pouring over piles of political data that is the air someone like Manafort breathes, but is astonishingly new to a man who has led the GOP field for some six months.

A national political campaign is among the most turbulent and challenging of shark-infested waters.

Donald Trump, at long last, has decided it’s finally time he learn to swim.

UPDATE: Here is just-released video of Paul Manafort speaking with CNN on the shift within the Trump campaign and his direct role in that undertaking. Note how he says he answers to Trump directly – not through Lewandowski, a clear substantiation of the above report. This a very competent and confident political operative of the highest order:

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