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Trump is eyeing Paul Manafort for 2024 campaign role

Former president Donald Trump is expected to enlist Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager he pardoned, as a campaign adviser later this year, according to four people familiar with the talks.

The job discussions have largely centered around the 2024 Republican convention in Milwaukee in July and could include Manafort playing a role in fundraising for the presumptive GOP nominee’s campaign, according to these people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private deliberations. While no formal decision has been made, the four people described the hiring as expected and said Trump was determined to bring Manafort back into the fold.

Manafort worked for Trump in 2016 before being ousted and later convicted of tax and bank fraud felonies as part of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He served time in prison before receiving a pardon in the final days of Trump’s time in office.

A Trump campaign spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. Manafort also did not respond to a request for comment.

The hiring of Manafort would likely revive discussion of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, which Mueller concluded was “sweeping and systemic.” Mueller also found that Manafort shared internal Trump campaign polling data with a longtime associate who the FBI assessed had ties to Russian intelligence.

A bipartisan Senate committee that investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election concluded that Manafort’s receptivity to Russian outreach was a “grave counterintelligence threat” that had made the 2016 campaign susceptible to “malign Russian influence.”

Trump has told advisers that he feels loyal to Manafort because he served prison time, and Manafort has continued to stay loyal and praise Trump in public and private appearances. The former president still often complains about the Mueller investigation, people close to Trump say, and contends the prosecution of Manafort was unfair.

Manafort was the Trump campaign chairman during the summer of 2016 before he was ousted in late August. He is a longtime Republican fixer, lawyer and lobbyist who has lobbied for foreign leaders and dictators.

He was ousted from the campaign, The Washington Post reported at the time, after Trump “blew a gasket” when learning that Manafort’s firm had not properly disclosed its foreign lobbying.

Manafort was found guilty of hiding millions he made lobbying on behalf of pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians in overseas bank accounts, then falsifying his finances to get loans when his patrons lost power. He was originally sentenced to about four years in prison but was released early to home confinement due to the coronavirus before he was pardoned by Trump.

During the 2016 campaign, Manafort also allegedly shared Trump campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian who the U.S. government said had ties to Russian intelligence. The special counsel accused Manafort of lying to the FBI about his interactions with Kilimnik, even after Manafort had said he would cooperate and provide truthful information.

Manafort also allegedly worked with Kilimnik to spread Russian disinformation that it was actually Ukraine who interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

In a report issued in 2020, the Senate bipartisan committee that investigated Russian interference found that “Manafort’s presence on the Campaign and proximity to Trump created opportunities for Russian intelligence services to exert influence over, and acquire confidential information on, the Trump Campaign.”

Before joining Trump’s orbit, he owned multiple properties in Manhattan and Palm Beach, drove luxurious cars and spent millions on fancy clothes and rugs. But Mueller found that he had “no meaningful income” when he agreed to work for Trump for no salary in 2016 and instead intended to find ways to monetize his newly prominent role in the presidential campaign, including with former clients in Ukraine.

Manafort’s national political career was launched in 1975, when he was named associate director for personnel for President Gerald Ford. He worked closely with Ford campaign chief James A. Baker, a man he considered an early mentor.

His reputation rose in 1976, when he helped Ford win the Republican nomination during a contested convention. He worked later as a convention adviser to the presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan and led convention operations in 1996 for GOP presidential nominee Robert J. Dole.

Trump has vacillated on his views of Manafort over the years. In 2018, he gave tepid remarks on behalf of his former campaign chairman.

“You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time,” Trump said. “He worked for Ronald Reagan, he worked for Bob Dole, he worked for John McCain or his firm did. He worked for many other Republicans. He worked for me for what? For 49 days or something? A very short period of time.”

But when he pardoned Manafort, he attacked the Mueller investigation.

Manafort has since written a book called “Political Prisoner” and defended Trump, attacking the Justice Department and other Trump critics.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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