- The Washington Times - Friday, August 19, 2016

Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, resigned Friday, capping a week that saw yet another major staffing shake-up for the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign.

“This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” Mr. 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.”

The news comes just days after Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon was appointed CEO of the campaign and adviser Kellyanne Conway promoted to campaign manager.

In the staffing announcement Wednesday, the campaign said Mr. Manafort would remain the campaign’s chairman and chief strategist.

Mr. Manafort was brought on in March to manage the campaign’s convention operations, and later took the reins after Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, was fired in June.

Mr. Manafort’s resignation comes amid renewed scrutiny into his past work in Ukraine. He had worked for former President Viktor F. Yanukovych, who was elected in 2010.

“I think my father didn’t want to be distracted by whatever things Paul was dealing with,” Eric Trump, the candidate’s son, said in an interview for Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” program.

The New York Times recently reported that an anti-corruption probe in Ukraine found $12.7 million earmarked for Mr. Manafort on a handwritten ledger from Mr. Yanukovych’s pro-Russian Party of Regions.

In response to the story, Mr. Manafort said he never received a single “off-the-books cash payment” as reported, and that he’s never done work for the governments of Ukraine and Russia. He says his work in Ukraine ended after the country’s parliamentary elections in October 2014.

The Associated Press also reported Thursday that a firm run by Mr. Manafort had engaged in a covert lobbying effort to sway American public opinion in favor of Ukraine’s then-pro-Russian government.

Eric Trump complimented Mr. Manafort for getting the campaign through the primary process and the convention, and said the new team will ultimately get them to a victory.

“But again, my father just didn’t want to have the distraction looming over the campaign and, quite frankly, looming over all the issues that Hillary’s facing right now,” he said.

The Trump campaign had repeatedly downplayed the idea that bringing in Mr. Bannon and promoting Ms. Conway was a “shake-up,” instead describing it as a natural expansion of the team heading into the stretch run of the general election campaign.

“When you shake up your campaign, that usually means someone is out,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said on CNN earlier this week. “This was announced as an expansion.”

The news of Mr. Manafort’s resignation risks overshadowing Mr. Trump’s well-received speech in North Carolina Thursday in which the candidate made a rare public admission of regret.

“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,” Mr. Trump said.

“And believe it or not, I regret it — and I do regret it — particularly where it may have caused personal pain,” he said.

The Trump campaign also released its first television ad of the general election campaign on Friday before news of Mr. Manafort’s resignation broke.

Mr. Trump is touring Louisiana Friday amid the recent floods and is scheduled to campaign in Michigan later in the day.

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