Paul Manafort resigns as Trump campaign chairman after Breitbart shake-up

Trump campaign shakeup: Manafort's Kremlin connections get him dumped and replaced by Breitbart head

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published August 19, 2016 2:37PM (EDT)

Paul Manafort (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Paul Manafort (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

It was expected.

After a week of horrible headlines, Paul Manafort abruptly resigned as chairman of Donald Trump's presidential campaign this morning. So much for a Friday news dump.

Trump's second campaign chief had already been effectively booted from his top role after Trump decided to bring in Breitbart News boss Stephen Bannon as his new campaign CEO and Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager over the weekend.

The trouble for Manafort, who replaced first Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski earlier this summer, really began in earnest with Trump's attacks on a Muslim American Gold Star family. Manafort, a longtime Republican player who has spent the last couple of decades lobbying on behalf of foreign dictators, was brought on by the campaign to deal with a possible contested convention. But the less than star-studded affair featured the prominent non-endorsement from former rival Ted Cruz and was bested by a Democratic convention that set-off a days long attack on the Khan family. Hardly a good look for Trump, by nearly all accounts.

Manafort's days reportedly grew numbered as Trump became enraged that his campaign was unable to mobilize Republican support over his attack on the Khans.

As reports of Manafort's connections to the Kremlin through his work with the pro-Russian Ukrainian government of Victor Yanukovych grew more troublesome, Trump moved to undercut the veteran political operative. In one week, there were reports that Manafort was listed on a secret ledger as having received $12.7 million in under-the-table payments, that he played a key role in fomenting pro-annexation sentiments in Crimea ahead of the Russian invasion, and that he illegally funneled foreign cash towards pro-Putin lobbying efforts in the U.S.

Trump thanked Manafort for the contributions he made during his three months leading the campaign in a statement Friday.

"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," Trump said.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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