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Paul Manafort Tag

The FBI raided the Strategic Campaign Group (SCG) in Annapolis, MD Thursday, but refused to specify why it issued search warrants. Because SCG is connected to some of President  Trump's advisors, there's widespread speculation that the raid was related to the FBI's investigation into Russian associates. SCG's president Kelley Rogers told the Capital Gazette that the search pertained to work "the firm performed during the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial campaign of former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican."

FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers addressed the House Intelligence Committee today about allegations of Russian interference with our presidential election and President Donald Trump's accusations that former President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) told Fox News on Sunday that the wiretap never happened. Top Democrat Adam Schiff expects "Comey to rebut the president's claim" at the hearing.

The rise of Donald Trump has divided the GOP more than ever, leading many to worry if the party could maintain their majority in Congress whether he wins or loses the presidency. The Democrats have noticed and now Politico reports that Hillary Clinton plans to raise $1 billion to defeat the vulnerable GOP members of Congress:
The new concern inside the highest levels of Republican politics is that Hillary Clinton will raise $1 billion for Democrats and the party will train some of their efforts -- and that money -- on defeating House and Senate Republicans. Party leaders privately concede that the Senate could be lost either way. But senior House Republicans say they’re in good shape across the country, and see no evidence that the control of the chamber is in play.

Earlier this morning Donald Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, resigned from his post. Speculation Manafort was entangled in a pro-Russian lobbying scheme made headlines earlier this week and was cited as a possible reason for his campaign resignation. That speculation has turned into a full-on federal investigation.

I didn't watch Donald Trump's speech last night, but I saw Twitter blow up but not in the usual way. The speech was being received by all but the most diehard #NeverTrump-ers as the long-awaited "pivot," a reasonable policy and campaign speech read from a teleprompter. The prepared text of the speech is here. It's quite good. But .... It's not exactly the "Let Trump be Trump" pivot we all were expecting with the naming of Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon to lead the Trump campaign. With Paul Manafort resigning from the campaign this morning, one would have expected Trump's pivot to be more aggressive. The speech, however, appeared to be the opposite of letting Trump be Trump, at least if Trump being Trump was what we have seen the past year on the campaign trail. Here's an excerpt from the opening [quotes from speech below from prepared text]:
I’d like to take a moment to talk about the heartbreak and devastation in Louisiana, a state that is very special to me. We are one nation. When one state hurts, we all hurt – and we must all work together to lift each other up. Working, building, restoring together. Our prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones, and we send them our deepest condolences. Though words cannot express the sadness one feels at times like this, I hope everyone in Louisiana knows that our country is praying for them and standing with them to help them in these difficult hours.

Numerous news outlets are reporting that Donald Trump has shifted leadership of his campaign, and named Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon and pollster Kellyanne Conway as de facto leaders of his campaign. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news:
Stephen Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News LLC, an outspoken Trump supporter and a former Goldman Sachs banker, will assume the new position of campaign chief executive. At the same time, Mr. Trump also is promoting Kellyanne Conway, a veteran GOP pollster and strategist, to become campaign manager. Ms. Conway has been a campaign adviser for several weeks. Longtime Republican operative Paul Manafort, who joined the campaign late in the primary season, remains campaign chairman. But the reset is designed to bulk up a structure that many Republicans have complained wasn’t adequate for the rigors of the general-election campaign.... “I want to win,” Mr. Trump said in an interview Tuesday night in which he disclosed his hires. “That’s why I’m bringing on fantastic people who know how to win and love to win.”
WaPo added:

The GOP handed the anti-Trump movement a defeat when they stopped an attempt to unbind delegates, which would allow them to "vote for any candidate they like." In fact, the voice vote for Trump was loud "the presiding officer did not need to call for an official count."

Members inside GOP presumptive presidential candidate Donald Trump's campaign said that Paul Manafort has taken over as campaign manager:
Three people close to the campaign said some of Trump's staff viewed Lewandowski as opposing strategic changes and staff hires urged for the general election campaign by Paul Manafort, a strategist hired in April partly for his experience on presidential campaigns that Lewandowski lacked. The three, a campaign staffer and two people in regular contact with Trump advisers, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by Trump to discuss the firing. Manafort will take over as campaign manager, said Carl Paladino, co-chairman of the campaign's operations in New York state. "Paul's in charge," Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee's communications director, said in an interview.
Trump brought in Manafort in late March as an advisor. People may not know Manafort, but those like me who have covered Ukraine since 2013 know the name all too well since he once advised ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. The man who advised the Moscow-backed president of Ukraine is now managing the campaign of the GOP candidate. While Manafort has consulted numerous unsavory individuals, Yanukovych remains fresh since his downfall has led to the worst tensions between the West and Russia since the Cold War.

According to the New York Times, Trump's campaign has fired their campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. Maggie Haberman reports:
“The Donald J. Trump Campaign for President, which has set a historic record in the Republican primary having received almost 14 million votes, has today announced that Corey Lewandowski will no longer be working with the campaign,” the campaign spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said in a statement. “The campaign is grateful to Corey for his hard work and dedication and we wish him the best in the future.”

I fully appreciate that support for Trump has become a cult of personality. Nothing can sway those who refuse to see that Trump is conning them. He doesn't respect you. He doesn't like you. He is manipulating you to get what he wants. It's all a show. And his new convention manager (and de facto campaign manager) Paul Manafort just admitted to the con in a closed door meeting with the RNC. The Associated Press obtained a recording, and reports, Trump team tells GOP he has been 'projecting an image' (emphasis added):
Trump's newly hired senior aide, Paul Manafort, made the case to Republican National Committee members that Trump has two personalities: one in private and one onstage. "When he's out on the stage, when he's talking about the kinds of things he's talking about on the stump, he's projecting an image that's for that purpose," Manafort said in a private briefing. "You'll start to see more depth of the person, the real person. You'll see a real different guy," he said.

As I noted yesterday, Donald Trump is having problems with delegates, and it sometimes seems that he doesn't understand how GOP nomination rules work or that the rules are different in different states or even that there are rules at all.  Whatever the reason for this impression, it's backed up by the fact that he's only recently begun to organize his team to work on delegates. One Trump campaign shake-up following his discouraging last month or so is his new hire Paul Manafort, a move announced less than two weeks ago.  Manafort is a long-time GOP political operative who has served as an adviser on the campaigns of Bob Dole, John McCain, and Gerald Ford, among others. The New York Times reports:

I still can't stand even the sound of John Kasich's voice. Now that we have that out of the way, it's pretty clear that the Republican primaries and convention come down to a choice between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Speculation otherwise -- including conspiracy theories -- does not seem to live in the real world, according to Charlie Cook:
Whenev­er I hear Re­pub­lic­ans wax on about the pos­sib­il­ity of nom­in­at­ing someone oth­er than Don­ald Trump or Ted Cruz — talk­ing up John Kasich, Paul Ry­an, Scott Walk­er, Mitt Rom­ney, or some oth­er less po­lar­iz­ing fig­ure — it makes me won­der: Ex­actly how would that hap­pen? We all have mem­or­ized two num­bers. The first is 1,237, the num­ber of del­eg­ates needed to win a ma­jor­ity at the GOP con­ven­tion. The second is 40, as in Rule 40, re­quir­ing that a can­did­ate win primar­ies or caucuses in eight states to have his name placed in nom­in­a­tion. (It was ad­ded to the party rules in 2012, pushed by al­lies of Mitt Rom­ney to stifle Ron Paul.)