Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump looks out at Lake Michigan during a visit to the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center in Milwaukee, Wis., Aug. 16, 2016.
Photo by Eric Thayer/Reuters

Trump campaign undergoes (another) major staff shake-up

In April, in the face of broad criticisms about his campaign’s direction, Donald Trump shook up his leadership team and implemented a “massive restructuring.” Two months later, in June, the Republican presidential candidate made another major staffing change, ousting campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
And now, two months after that, facing long odds of success, Team Trump is once again undergoing an overhaul.
Donald Trump is shaking up his campaign’s leadership amid flagging poll numbers, NBC News has learned.
Kellyanne Conway – already a senior adviser to the campaign – told NBC News she has been promoted to the role of campaign manager. She confirmed that Paul Manafort will stay on as campaign chair but said Stephen Bannon, the co-founder of conservative Breitbart News, will come on board as campaign CEO.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the staffing changes, said Manafort will stay on, though his power will clearly be diminished. The Washington Post’s report added, “Trump’s stunning decision effectively ended the months-long push by campaign chairman Paul Manafort to moderate Trump’s presentation and pitch for the general election.”
And just when it seemed things couldn’t get much worse for Manafort, the Associated Press reported this morning that the Republican lobbyist “helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party’s efforts to influence U.S. policy.”
If accurate, a report like this will raise questions anew about why Manafort is maintaining any kind of leadership role in the Republican nominee’s presidential campaign.
As for the fact that Trump is once again shaking up his team, BuzzFeed noted in April, “Far from a tight-knit family of blood brothers, The Donald’s inner circle has been purged and repopulated many times over the years.” Evidently, it’s happening once more – this time with the co-founder of a right-wing website helping take the lead over Trump’s political operation.
To be sure, staff shake-ups in presidential campaigns are not unprecedented, but for a major-party nominee to shuffle the staffing deck so often – and so late – is unusual. In recent history, the only candidate to overhaul his leadership team this late in the process was Bob Dole’s 1996 campaign, which shook up his team in early September, and who went on to lose badly two months later.