Paul Manafort resigned on Friday from his position as Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, two days after a major campaign shake-up left him with a diminished role. The move also comes amid allegations that Manafort received under-the-table payments for helping the Ukrainian government.
In a statement Friday morning, Trump said that Manafort voluntarily resigned, but did not mention his new advisers or Manafort’s role as a foreign agent.
“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,” he said. “Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”
Others reported that Manafort left “on good terms” and that he wanted to give the new team space to carry out its new strategy. But Eric Trump, the real estate mogul’s younger son, claimed that his father considered Manafort and the Ukraine allegations a “distraction.”
In recent weeks, reporters have raised questions about Manafort’s connection to the Russian government. The New York Times reported Thursday that a pro-Russian political party earmarked cash payments to Manafort. The news was revealed when Ukrainian authorities “released line-item entries, some for millions of dollars.”
The revelations also point to an outsize role for a former senior member of the pro-Russian political party, the Party of Regions, in directing money to both Republican and Democratic advisers and lobbyists from the United States as the party tried to burnish its image in Washington.
The former party member, Vitaly A. Kalyuzhny, for a time chairman of the Ukraine Parliament’s International Relations Committee, had signed nine times for receipt of payments designated for the Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, according to Serhiy A. Leshchenko, a member of Parliament who has studied the documents. The ledger covered payments from 2007 to 2012, when Mr. Manafort worked for the party and its leader, Viktor F. Yanukovych, Ukraine’s former president who was deposed.
The Associated Press also reported this week that Manafort worked for a secret lobbying group in Washington that had ties to Ukraine.
Hard to see how DOJ doesn't investigate Manafort & Gates given what AP has found. Clear predicate. https://t.co/JjA9RJw3AG
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) August 19, 2016
As this revelations surfaced, Trump hired Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon to serve as CEO and promoted former pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager. At the time, Trump and his advisers claimed the move did not mean a demotion for Manafort.
“Bannon is a good man, a nationalist like Trump, and a good friend of mine,” adviser Roger Stone told the Hartford Courant. Stone claimed that “no one [was] fired or is leaving” and that Manafort was in favor of the new hires, according to the Courant.