Donald Trump released a statement on Friday announcing that he had accepted the abrupt resignation of campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
“This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign. 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. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success,” the statement read.
This official announcement statement came shortly after reports of the resignation broke on Twitter.
SCOOP: A close friend of Manafort tells me he has resigned
— Robert Costa (@costareports) August 19, 2016
MANAFORT RESIGNS, per two sources briefed. Rick Gates remaining so far.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 19, 2016
“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. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success,” Trump said.
Manafort’s deputy Paul Gates is also leaving the campaign, NBC reported.
This surprising news comes just two days after the Republican nominee announced a shakeup of his senior staff, bringing on Breitbart News’ Steve Bannon as campaign CEO and GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager.
At the time, the Trump campaign announced that Manafort would retain his role and shook off claims that the staff changes were a response to weeks of negative press coverage and sinking poll numbers. Instead, the new hires were framed as an expansion of the team ahead of the general election.
Manafort himself sent a memo, obtained by NBC News, welcoming the “additions” to the team and pledging to continue “providing the big-picture, long-range campaign vision.” The note was signed “on to victory.”
NBC News has obtained the memo from Manafort to staff about “Additions to the Team”, he signs it “on to victory”: pic.twitter.com/qWXmz4JqHt
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 17, 2016
When Manafort took over for ousted campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in June, he was expected to help Trump tone down his rhetoric and provide the fledgling campaign with a dose of political experience. Yet the candidate repeatedly defied Manafort’s advice, telling the press he didn’t want to pivot for the general election and continuing to get in hot water for inflammatory comments.
After the staff changes were announced on Wednesday, two Trump aides told the Washington Post that the nominee felt “controlled” and “boxed in” by efforts to manage his message.
Manafort’s own background came under scrutiny during his time atop Trump’s campaign. The consultant previously worked for a number of controversial foreign leaders, including Ukrainian politicians with ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Questions about Manafort’s past sharpened during the GOP convention in July, where the party platform was changed to soften the Republicans’ stance on helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian military interventions.
Though Manafort denied any involvement in the platform changes, they drew attention to his consulting work for Ukraine’s deposed pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. On Sunday, the New York Times published a report that suggested $12.7 million in cash was set aside for Manafort in a secret off-the-books ledger kept by Yanukovych’s now defunct Party of Regions.
Manafort denied accepting any such funds, calling the allegations “unfounded, silly, and nonsensical.”
This post has been updated.