Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced Friday in a statement that campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned from his position. The longtime GOP strategist’s decision came after Trump elevated Breitbart News chief Steve Bannon as campaign CEO and Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager, two senior positions that diminished Manafort’s role.
The Trump campaign has experienced two high-profile departures over the summer. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowsky was fired before the national convention. Bannon may now be planning to encourage Trump to embrace the aggressive attitude he had before because it made him win the primary.
“This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” Trump said, as quoted by CNN. “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.”
Manafort was initially hired to help Trump get through the Republican convention in case he was defeated and failed to win enough delegates. However, his work helped create stronger connections between the nominee and the GOP establishments as Republican elders were told that Trump would stick to a traditional campaign.
Manafort’s link with the Russians
Compared to Lewandowski, Manafort leaves under very different circumstances as he faces investigations into his Russia-related business in the Ukraine, where he defended pro-Russians interests.
Republican Congressman Sean Duffy of Wisconsin said Tuesday he was calling for investigations into Manafort’s lobbying history overseas because he wanted to know what he received from a pro-Russian organization in the Ukraine, according to a report by CNN.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois told CNN that Trump had the responsibility to investigate the links between the billionaire’s former chief adviser and the Russians. And of course, Hillary Clinton has also shown great interest in the matter.
“Paul Manafort’s resignation is a clear admission that the disturbing connections between Donald Trump’s team and pro-Kremlin elements in Russia and Ukraine are untenable,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook said Friday, according to Los Angeles Times. “You can get rid of Manafort, but that doesn’t end the odd bromance Trump has with Putin.”
Eric Trump told Fox News this week that his father wanted to stop the distraction Manafort represented with all the things he is dealing with right now. Eric described Paul as “amazing”, but suggested that the campaign had to get rid of such distraction.
Manafort’s decision to leave the Republican presidential campaign after such a short time during a tough week as Republican leaders and key contributors asked Trump to reshape his candidacy, given the recent missteps that have resulted in tumbled poll numbers.
In spite of the short time he served as chief campaign adviser, the GOP strategist had the chance to recruit a significant number of former associates to join the campaign, and it remains unclear whether his resignation will lead to additional changes in the staff.
Trump officially announced Manafort’s resignation as he was getting ready to visit the affected areas of Louisiana after the devastating flooding. The night before the Republican nominee had been in North Carolina, where he suggested he felt sorry for the harsh language his campaign is characterized for. His speech apparently meant mainstream Republicans welcomed a significant change and it.