(USA Today) — Campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned from Donald Trump’s team Friday, less than a week after the candidate reshuffled his staff and amid news reports about Manafort’s past political activity for pro-Russian elements in Ukraine.
“This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” 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.”
Trump announced he would accept Manafort’s resignation while en route to Louisiana to tour flood damage.
Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman for Breitbart News, is the new campaign CEO, while pollster and consultant Kellyanne Conway is now campaign manager.
This is second change at the top of Trump’s campaign in little more than two months. Trump fired campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in June, a time at which Manafort ascended to the top of the organization.
Manafort leaves the campaign amid a rising number of news reports about his past work for pro-Russian political elements in Ukraine, including stories of millions in secret cash payments that Manafort has denied.
The departure from Trump’s team did not surprise political consultants.
“It had to happen,” said Republican consultant Bruce Haynes, founding partner of Washington-based Purple Strategies, “The revelations about the Ukrainian involvement put the consultant in a position where he was overshadowing the campaign and choking its ability to deliver its message.”
Texas-based political consultant Matt Mackowiak said Trump “needed Manafort to leave over the Ukraine revelations. And now he has.”