Trump cam­paign head is im­pelled to re­sign

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - NATION & WORLD - By Mag­gie Haber­man and Jonathan Martin

Paul Manafort, a Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tive since the 1970s, was sup­posed to im­pose or­der on Don­ald Trump’s chaotic pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

On Fri­day the chaos de­voured Trump’s cam­paign chair­man.

Weeks of slid­ing poll num­bers and false starts had sapped Manafort’s cred­i­bil­ity in­side the cam­paign. A cool­ing re­la­tion­ship with Trump turned hot last week­end when the can­di­date erupted, blam­ing Manafort for a dam­ag­ing news­pa­per ar­ti­cle de­tail­ing the cam­paign’s in­ter­nal tra­vails, ac­cord­ing to three peo­ple briefed on the episode.

Then a wave of re­ports about Manafort’s busi­ness deal­ings with Rus­sianaligned lead­ers in Ukraine, in­volv­ing al­le­ga­tions of mil­lions of dol­lars in cash pay­ments and se­cret lob­by­ing ef­forts in the United States, threw a spot­light on a glar­ing vul­ner­a­bil­ity for Trump: his ad­mi­ra­tion for Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin of Rus­sia.

“This morn­ing Paul Manafort of­fered, and I ac­cepted, his res­ig­na­tion from the cam­paign,” Trump said in a state­ment Fri­day. “I am very ap­pre­cia­tive for his great work in help­ing to get us where we are to­day.”

In fact, Manafort did not go vol­un­tar­ily. “My fa­ther just didn’t want to have the dis­trac­tion loom­ing over the cam­paign,” Eric Trump, the can­di­date’s sec­ond son, ex­plained in a Fox News in­ter­view. WASH­ING­TON In a twist, Manafort’s ouster came af­ter a week in which Trump had taken sev­eral steps to­ward the kind of nor­mal­ized can­di­dacy Manafort had been striv­ing for: The Repub­li­can nom­i­nee gave three speeches in which he gen­er­ally stuck to a script; he mostly at­tacked Hil­lary Clin­ton, his Demo­cratic op­po­nent, while re­frain­ing from be­rat­ing other Repub­li­cans; and, on Fri­day he be­gan run­ning his first tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tise­ments.

The tim­ing of Manafort’s de­par­ture largely over­shad­owed the news Thurs­day night when the can­di­date, who has long spurned apolo­gies, an­nounced at a rally that he re­gret­ted some of the more of­fen­sive things he has said — though with­out spec­i­fy­ing which.

Manafort, 67, was hired in late March as Trump was fac­ing a pitched bat­tle to amass the num­ber of del­e­gates needed to cap­ture the party’s nom­i­na­tion. He was seen as a peer to Trump, 70, and as some­one whose ad­vice Trump might heed.

He ended up tak­ing the helm of the cam­paign when Corey Le­wandowski, Trump’s pre­vi­ous cam­paign man­ager, was fired af­ter re­peat­edly clash­ing with the can­di­date’s chil­dren.

Manafort helped de­feat the “never Trump” move­ment within the Repub­li­can Party, opened lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with party lead­ers in Wash­ing­ton and crushed a brief but noisy del­e­gate up­ris­ing on the floor of the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion in Cleve­land on its first day. He also suc­cess­fully pushed for the se­lec­tion of Gov. Mike Pence of In­di­ana as Trump’s run­ning mate.

But Trump never devel­oped the sort of chem­istry or com­fort level with Manafort that he had with Le­wandowski, cam­paign aides said. Ac­cord­ing to peo­ple briefed on the mat­ter, Jared Kush­ner, Trump’s son-in­law, ex­pressed in­creas­ing con­cern af­ter a New York Times ar­ti­cle pub­lished Sun­day about al­le­ga­tions of cash pay­ments made to Manafort’s firm for his work on be­half of his main client, Vik­tor F. Yanukovych, the for­mer Ukra­nian pres­i­dent, an ally of Putin.

Clin­ton’s cam­paign has re­peat­edly sought to yoke Trump to Putin, cit­ing Trump’s praise for the Rus­sian leader. And the avalanche of sto­ries about Manafort’s work for pro-Rus­sian en­ti­ties in Ukraine was be­com­ing un­ten­able for the cam­paign, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple briefed on the dis­cus­sions.

“The eas­i­est way for Trump to side­step the whole Ukraine story is for Manafort not to be there,” said Newt Gin­grich, the for­mer House speaker who has be­come a coun­selor to Trump.

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