President Donald Trump has in the recent past both distanced himself from his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and defended him.
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Here are some of the recent public responses by the president and his associates about Manafort and his role in the 2016 presidential campaign. Manafort began working for the campaign in March 2016 as campaign convention manager and was promoted to campaign chairman in May. He resigned from the campaign in August 2016.
Feb. 16, 2017
During a press conference at the White House, Trump called Manafort “a respected man” and dismissed questions about reports of Manafort’s ties to foreign political parties or governments.
“People knew that” Manafort had worked for the Ukrainian government before joining his presidential campaign, the president said.
Trump then went on to downplay Manafort’s role in his election.
“He was replaced long before the election. You know that, right? He was replaced long before the election. When all of this stuff started coming out, it came out during the election. But Paul Manafort, who’s a good man also, by the way — Paul Manafort was replaced long before the election took place. He was only there for a short period of time,” Trump said.
March 20, 2017
Trump’s then-press secretary Sean Spicer gave an account of Manafort’s role in the campaign that he later walked back.
While talking about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Spicer referred to the former Trump campaign chair as “Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.”
Two days later, Spicer said he “should have been more precise” in his characterization of Manfort’s role in the campaign.
Aug. 10, 2017
Trump was asked about Manafort in August after it was reported that the FBI had conducted a pre-dawn raid of Manafort’s home.
Trump called the raid “pretty tough stuff” and complimented Manafort by saying he found him “to be a very decent man.”
But he also downplayed his connections to Manafort.
“I know Mr. Manafort — I haven’t spoken to him in a long time, but I know him. He was with the campaign, as you know, for a very short period of time, relatively short period of time. But I’ve always known him to be a good man,” Trump said.