Trump Time Capsule #80: Manafort, Adieu

Two days ago, they were a team: Kellyanne Conway and Paul Manafort. Today, he is gone. (Carlo Allegri / Reuters)
Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

No larger point for now (still on the road, out all days on interviews in Erie), but here we note for the record the second major change in Trump campaign leadership within roughly two months.

In June, Corey Lewandowski was out, soon to join CNN, and Paul Manafort was in. Today, Manafort is out, and Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon are in.

To say something you might have seen before in this space: This level of churn and chaos very rarely occurs in a major-party presidential campaign. To the best of my knowledge, it has never occurred in a winning campaign.

Now perhaps we’ll never know who was telling the truth about the change in the GOP platform, made at the convention, that favored Russia and Manafort’s pro-Russian former client, Viktor Yanukovych (as noted here two weeks ago). Members of the platform committee say that the Manafort-led Trump campaign asked for this change, and only this change, in the party’s platform. Manafort flatly and categorically denied that Team Trump had anything whatsoever to do with the change. “It absolutely did not come from the campaign,” he told George Stephanopoulos. “No one, zero” from the campaign was involved.

The members of the platform committee had no reason to misrepresent what happened. Manafort did, and had a long record of Baghdad Bob-like flat denials of reality when speaking for the campaign. Thus I’ve assumed that he was the one dissembling. But presumably the press spotlight will for now move away from him and resolving this issue. Legal proceedings could be another matter.

Eighty days to go until the election; still no tax returns or plausible medical report on offer from the Trump campaign; but it’s a new team with a new start. On to new reports tomorrow.