“This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” Trump said in a statement. “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.”
The news comes after Trump, who has been sliding in polls with less than three months until Election Day, announced a major shakeup in his campaign. Late Tuesday, the GOP nominee said he’d recruited Breitbart chief executive Steve Bannon as campaign CEO, while adviser Kellyanne Conway had been upped to campaign manager. This seemed to push Manafort to the side, though it was said at the time he was retaining his post as campaign chairman.
Manafort’s resignation comes after a flurry of news reports linking the former lobbyist to pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. Just yesterday a report said a firm run by Manafort allegedly orchestrated “a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling political party” in an effort to sway U.S. public opinion. In that report, Associated Press cited emails it had obtained, adding that Manafort and his deputy failed to disclose their work “as foreign agents” as required by federal law.
In June, Manafort won an internecine power struggle that saw Trump’s previous, controversial campaign chief Corey Lewandowski being shown the door – literally. In that surprise sacking, Trump declared Lewandowski, who had run his campaign from its official launch in June, “a good guy, a friend of mine.” But, Trump added, “I think it’s time now for a different kind of campaign.”
Manafort was said to have been championed by Trump’s daughter Ivanka, and Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner, in that campaign reboot, as he transitioned from the primaries to the general election. Lewandowski, meanwhile, became a contributor at CNN, where he never seemed to miss an opportunity to nick Manafort — including the discovery that Melania Trump’s RNC opening night keynote speech included portions plagiarized from a Michelle Obama speech.
Lewandowski this morning gave CNN his take on Manafort’s resignation.
“This is a reminder to me and to the American public that Donald Trump will do anything it takes to win,” he said.calling it “the best week Donald Trump has had in a long, long time” and “a very important change for the campaign.” He said he wished Manafort “the absolute very best.”