During Monday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked several questions pertaining to the President Trump/Russia investigation. Spicer pushed back on the narrative that the Trump campaign had ties to Russia, but he did mention former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort:
“And obviously there’s been discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.”
Spicer is playing a game of semantics regarding the involvement of Manafort in the Trump campaign.
Manafort came on the scene in March 2016 to “lead the delegate operation on the floor of the Republican National Committee in Cleveland,” according to CNN. Two months later, he became Trump’s chief strategist as well as his campaign chairman. In June, Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski parted ways with team Trump, leaving Manafort as one of the highest ranking members.
According to The Washington Post:
Toward the end of the primary calendar, in mid-April, Manafort and Rick Wiley were reportedly given control of the campaign, as campaign manager Corey Lewandowski took on a smaller role. Wiley left the campaign in late May, and on June 20, Lewandowski was fired. Manafort at that point became the clear leader of the campaign.
Manafort resigned in August amid reports that he had allegedly engaged in an unseemly business transaction with a “pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.”
The resignation came amid a New York Times report that Manafort received $12.7 million in secret cash payments earmarked for Manafort from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. CNN reported August 19 that the FBI and Justice Department were investigating Americans tied to alleged corruption of the former pro-Russian President of Ukraine, including the work of Manafort’s firm. Manafort resigned that day.
Upon Manafort’s resignation, Donald Trump released a statement praising him for his guidance:
“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.”
Spicer later clarified his remarks, saying: “Paul was brought on sometime in June and by the middle of August he was no longer with the campaign, meaning for the final stretch of the general election, he was not involved.”
This doesn’t change the fact that Manafort was heavily involved in the Trump campaign for approximately five months, up to and including becoming its leader upon Lewandowski’s ouster in June. During Manafort’s time in leadership, Donald Trump was selected to be the Republican nominee for president at the RNC convention.
Manafort was indeed heavily involved in the Trump campaign for a long period of time.