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Trump’s campaign chair quits after revelations of Ukraine ties

Resignation comes after evidence surfaces that Paul Manafort lobbied in US on behalf of Ukrainian politicians, despite his denial

In this July 17, 2016 file photo, then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. (Matt Rourke/AP)
In this July 17, 2016 file photo, then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. (Matt Rourke/AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned on Friday in the wake of a campaign shake-up and revelations about his work in Ukraine.

In a statement issued as he arrived in Louisiana to tour the flood-ravaged state, Trump said Manafort offered his resignation Friday morning. The billionaire called Manafort “a true professional.”

“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 said.

Manafort’s resignation comes a day after The Associated Press reported that confidential emails from his firm contradicted his claims that he had never lobbied on behalf of Ukrainian political figures in the US.

Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort walks off the floor of the Republican National Convention, July 17, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort walks off the floor of the Republican National Convention, July 17, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Emails between Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, also a top Trump adviser, and the lobbying firm Mercury LLC showed that Manafort’s firm directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s then-ruling political party.

The effort included not just legislative outreach but also attempts to sway American public opinion and gather political intelligence on competing lobbying efforts in the US.

Manafort and Gates never registered as foreign agents for their work as required under federal law.

Ukrainian journalist and member of parliament Serhiy Leshchenko holds pages showing allegedly signings of payments to Donald Trump's presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort from an illegal shadow accounting book of the party of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych during a press conference in Kiev on August 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/SERGEI SUPINSKY)
Ukrainian journalist and member of parliament Serhiy Leshchenko holds pages showing allegedly signings of payments to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign chairman Paul Manafort from an illegal shadow accounting book of the party of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych during a press conference in Kiev on August 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/SERGEI SUPINSKY)

Also Friday, Ukrainian anti-corruption investigators released copies of handwritten ledgers detailing possible cash payments from Ukrainian political figures to Manafort totaling more than $12 million. Details of the payments described in the ledger were first reported by The New York Times. Manafort denies receiving those payments.

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally in Kissimmee, Florida, on August 11, 2016. (AFP/Gregg Newton)
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses supporters during a campaign rally in Kissimmee, Florida, on August 11, 2016. (AFP/Gregg Newton)

Earlier this week, Trump brought in a new campaign chief executive and campaign manager following a disastrous stretch in which the New Yorker committed a series of errors and fell behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in both national and battleground state preference polls.

The new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, had described Manafort and Gates as part of a new “core four” atop the Trump operation with her and CEO Stephen Bannon.

Executive Producer Stephen Bannon poses at the premiere of 'Sweetwater' during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Donald Trump is bringing in Breitbart News' Bannon as campaign CEO. (Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File)
Executive Producer Stephen Bannon poses at the premiere of ‘Sweetwater’ during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Donald Trump is bringing in Breitbart News’ Bannon as campaign CEO. (Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

Bannon is moving to the Trump campaign from the top of Breitbart News, a conservative website that has emerged in recent years as a social media colossus in politics — one that has been unabashedly supportive of Trump’s campaign lately.

His installation at the top of the Trump campaign offers fresh evidence that the GOP nominee has no intention of reining in his brash, outsider’s style or cozying up to the GOP establishment despite his campaign’s recent struggles.

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