Paul Manafort, the chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, has resigned. Talking Points Memo reports that the news first broke on Twitter.
Minutes later, the campaign issued a statement confirming Manafort’s resignation.
It read, “This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign. I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”
This is the latest, and most significant, of a number of recent changes in Donald Trump’s campaign staff. Denying popular descriptions of the changes as a “shakeup,” the candidate referred to them as an “expansion.” When previously asked if Paul Manafort would remain in his position, Trump had confirmed that he would.
According to a report from Fox News, Paul Manafort had 26 years of experience in the Republican Party prior to working on Donald Trump’s campaign. While his work just before the primaries was praised, the recent appointment of Breitbart’s Steve Bannon as CEO of the campaign was seen by many as a move that spelled trouble for Paul Manafort due to their contrasting views on how the Republican candidate for president should present himself. While Manafort encouraged him to rein in some of his presentation of his message, Bannon believed that it was best to “let Trump be Trump.” A couple of people inside the campaign reported that Paul Manafort’s efforts to present him as more controlled and professional made the candidate feel “controlled” and “boxed in.”
News that broke earlier this week about an apparent connection between Paul Manafort and Ukraine politicians didn’t help his case any. Suspicion about Trump’s possible relationship with Vladimir Putin has been a constant concern of many for some time now because of some comments the candidate has made in which he praised the Russian leader. This week’s news indicated that Paul Manafort received almost $13 million cash from ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian party between 2007 and 2012. These charges were based on alleged entries in a ledger belonging to Yanukovych. Manafort characterized the charges as “unfounded, silly and nonsensical.”
On Sunday, on the Fox News show Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, Eric Trump indicated that the attention a possible connection between Paul Manafort and Russia was a concern to his father.
“I think my father didn’t want to be, you know, distracted by whatever things Paul was dealing with… But again, my father just didn’t want to have the distraction looming over the campaign and quite frankly looming over all the issues that Hillary’s facing right now.”
One GOP strategist echoed this sentiment when he commented on Paul Manafort trying to deal with both the change in the hierarchy within the Donald Trump campaign and the news about money he received from Yanukovych.
“If you had had one of these things happen, it would have been survivable. But you had two of these things in concert. One thing I don’t think Trump will tolerate is the focus being on someone else rather than himself.”
The Washington Post reports that Paul Manafort’s exit is happening in an amicable manner and that he is expected to remain “an ally and outside confidant of the campaign.” It is a development that people inside the campaign expected following the recent additions of Bannon and GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway.
“Manafort has had an easy rapport with Conway and Bannon in meetings this week but was inclined to leave to give them room to develop and execute their own strategy, the aides said.”
Among the Republican Party’s concerns about Paul Manafort’s management of Trump’s campaign was that he wasn’t building a sufficient infrastructure in battleground states. The campaign has largely depended on the party for support in the field, and many fear that Manafort’s failure to lead the campaign in an effort to build a substantial presence in key states has left Donald Trump in a bad position going into the general election.
[Photo by Matt Rourke/AP Images]