The Atlantic

Trump's Former Campaign Chairman's Tight Ties to Putin

The White House is now trying to claim that Paul Manafort, who reportedly worked to further Vladimir Putin’s interests in the U.S. and overseas, was only a bit player in the president’s run for office.
Source: Rick Wilking / Reuters

During Monday’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a strange assertion. This is not unusual; in fact, Spicer makes strange assertions on such a regular basis that this one barely made a ripple outside of the press corps. James Comey had confirmed that morning that his FBI was investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to meddle in the presidential election.

Unbidden, Spicer brought up Paul Manafort, who had served as Trump’s campaign chairman during summer 2016. “Obviously there’s been discussion of Paul Manafort who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time,” Spicer said. Reporters immediately reacted incredulously: Manafort had been the campaign chairman, after all!

The White House’s desire to preemptively distance itself from Manafort seemed more understandable Wednesday, after a big report from the Associated Press saying that Manafort worked for a Russian billionaire close to President Vladimir Putin in the mid-2000s, as

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