Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, quit on Friday amid a flurry of reports that he may have received undisclosed cash payments from a Ukraine political party.
Just a few days ago, Manafort saw his official role in the campaign diminished after Trump shook up his staff. The Republican presidential candidate named Stephen Bannon, head of Breitbart News, as the campaign’s chief executive, and longtime conservative pollster Kellyanne Conway was assigned the role of campaign manager.
“This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” 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 guiding us through the delegate and convention process. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”
Manafort has been dogged over the past week by allegations that he received secret payments from a pro-Russian Ukraine political party. Some of the money may have been used for lobbying purposes in Washington to help influence government policy, AP reported.
Even before the Ukraine allegations, Manafort appeared to be losing influence with Trump. The businessman has fallen behind Hillary Clinton in the polls after a series of political missteps and Trump was looking to jolt his campaign.
Manafort, who was only brought on board in March, sought to temper Trump’s approach and help him appeal to moderates, an approach that did not appear to be succeeding. Bannon is viewed as more combative and willing to challenge mainstream Republicans and what Trump complains is a biased liberal press.
Yet Conway, though a staunch conservative, has a more genial personality and aims to work with Trump to help improve his poor image with women voters. Conway has advised other Republicans on how to reach out to women with more tailored campaign messages.
Trump’s surprise apology in a campaign appearance on Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. about some of his controversial remarks in the past might reflect the immediate influence of Conway.
“Sometimes, in the heat of debate, and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing. I have done that, and believe it or not I regret it,” Trump said. “I do regret it particularly where it may have caused personal pain.”
Trump has rarely apologized and even Thursday he decline to specify exactly what he was apologizing for. He has insulted Mexicans, called for a ban on Muslim immigrants and criticized the family of a Muslim-American soldier killed in Iraq, among other things.