Trump Elevates Former Putin Ally Adviser to Senior Campaign Role

Donald Trump / AP

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign announced on Thursday that it will consolidate its team and elevate recently hired aide Paul Manafort to a more senior role.

"Mr. Manafort will oversee, manage, and be responsible for all activities that pertain to Mr. Trump’s delegate process and the Cleveland Convention," the campaign said in a statement.

Manafort is a veteran Republican lobbyist and consultant who was initially brought on to help secure delegates at the convention. He will now be one of the most senior officials on the campaign.

"Working closely with Campaign Manager Corey R. Lewandowski and Deputy Campaign Manager Michael Glassner, Mr. Manafort will direct the campaign’s activities in areas including delegate operations, Washington, D.C., outreach and the D.C. office opening next week," the statement said.

In addition to his decades in American politics, Manafort has been deeply involved with political figures abroad.

He formerly served as a senior adviser to recently ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, a close ally of Russian president Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has repeatedly praised.

Manafort also worked closely with Ukrainian gas tycoon Dmitry Firtash, another Yanukovych ally. He helped Firtash park hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate investments in the United States and elsewhere.

A former employee accused companies set up by Manafort and his business associates of violating labor and tax laws by withholding payroll checks and declining to provide financial information to tax authorities.

Manafort is a past business associate of Trump ally and former campaign staffer Roger Stone. The two were principals at D.C. lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly.