Paul Manafort resigned his position as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman and chief strategist on Friday in the aftermath of a campaign shake-up and the release of a series of damning reports about his ties to pro-Russian interests in Ukraine.
“This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” Donald 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 in guiding us through the delegate process. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”
It also comes on the heels of the release of multiple reports about Manafort’s work for the pro-Russian political party of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. In April, Frank Foer catalogued many of Manafort’s then-known connections to the former regime in Slate, but much more has emerged in the ensuing months.
One recent report alleged that Manafort facilitated an illegal payment from a nonprofit to two lobbying firms “in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party’s efforts to influence U.S. policy.” Another alleged that Manafort received $12 million in secret payments from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions and that he helped stage pro-Russia protests in the Crimea 10 years ago. On Thursday, the Ukrainian government released line-item details of those secret payments. Some of the items were worth more than $1 million each.
Trump said last month that he would consider recognizing Russian control of Crimea, and the Hillary Clinton campaign has made an issue out of his praise for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
Manafort’s efforts to try to tame Trump and make him less of a loose cannon on the campaign trail were also widely seen as a failure. Earlier this month, he said “the candidate is in control of his campaign, that’s number one, and I’m in control of doing the things he wants me to do in the campaign.” The clear implication was that Manafort was not the one controlling the tumultuous campaign, or the candidate. This was during a period when Trump was getting into a series of controversies, including a feud with parents whose son had died fighting for the United States in Iraq.
In June, Manafort replaced the fired Corey Lewandowski at the top of the Trump campaign hierarchy. Manafort was first hired in March to lead Trump’s effort to consolidate his delegates numbers in time for the Republican National Convention.
“Manafort is leaving on good terms with the campaign, and continues to support Trump,” a friend of his told the Washington Post.