“I thought it was a very, very strong signal, or whatever. I know Mr. Manafort – I haven’t spoken to him in a long time, but I know him. He was with the campaign, as you know, for a very short period of time, relatively short period of time.”
This is clearly the line Trump World has embraced with both arms. Then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer described Manafort in March as someone “who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.” Soon after, Spicer told reporters that Manafort was only part of the campaign operation “for five months.”
The point is hardly subtle: as the seriousness of the Trump-Russia scandal intensifies, and Manafort’s potential legal jeopardy comes into focus, it stands to reason the president and his team are going to respond to questions with answers like, “Paul who?”
But there’s no reason to take the defense, such as it is, seriously. Manafort effectively ran the campaign when Trump secured and accepted the Republican Party’s presidential nomination. By their own admission, members of Team Trump touted Manafort for being “in charge” of Trump’s political operation, “leading” the campaign team.
Without the benefit of a time machine, it’s a little late to put distance between the president and his former campaign chairman.
Complicating matters, while Trump tells reporters Manafort was “with the campaign … for a very short period of time,” a top member of Trump’s legal team rallied to defend Manafort – despite the fact that the former campaign chairman isn’t actually his client. Rachel’s report on this last night is worth watching if you missed it.