Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Paul Manafort, chief strategist of the Trump campaign, prepares for an event at the Mayflower Hotel. (Getty)

Paul Manafort, chief strategist of the Trump campaign, prepares for an event at the Mayflower Hotel. (Getty)

There’s a new man in charge over at Trump Headquarters. The campaign recently announced that Paul Manafort, previously hired as Donald Trump‘s convention manager, has been promoted to Campaign Chairman and Chief Strategist, according to ABC News. Suddenly he’s all over television speaking on behalf of the candidate, just recently saying Trump will “soften” on his proposed Muslim man and that he will not nominate a woman or minority for vice president because it “would be viewed as pandering.

He is also supposedly at the center of a rift in Trump’s staff, as a battle for control over the campaign has arisen between Paul Manafort and campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Politico reports that Lewandowski has urged Trump to investigate Manafort’s personal life and past lobbying work, arguing they could damage the presidential hopeful’s image.

So who exactly is Paul Manafort, and how did he come to be involved in the Donald Trump campaign? Here are five fast facts you need to know.

1. He Has Worked for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush & John McCain

Paul Manafort Ben Carson, Donald Trump Ben Carson, Paul Manafort lobbying

Paul Manafort speaks with former presidential candidate Ben Carson before a Trump event. (Getty)

Paul Manafort was initially brought onto the Trump campaign when it appeared that the republican race was headed towards a contested convention; he was hired due to his years of personal experience at convention fights. According to The New York Times, Manafort worked at the 1976 republican convention, helping Gerald Ford squash the insurgent candidacy of Ronald Reagan in the most recent convention during which no candidate had a majority of delegates.

He would later be hired by Ronald Reagan as the southern coordinator of the 1980 campaign, and then as the deputy political director at the Republican National Committee. Manafort went on to advise the presidential campaigns of George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush and John McCain.

2. He Has Made Millions of Dollars Lobbying for Dictators

Manafort has made a career out of advising controversial foreign dictators, being hired to help reshape their image in America. His clients have been referred to as the “torturer’s lobby,” according to The Daily Beast.

His lobbying firm in 1985 was paid $1 million to advise Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, according to The Washington Post. Months later, the Marcos regime was overthrown and he fled to Hawaii.

Throughout the late 1980s, Manafort’s firm was hired to represent Jonas Savimbi, leader of a guerrilla army in Angola who hoped to receive aid from the United States. Thanks to Manafort’s work, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole convinced the State Department to send arms to Savimbi and his group. According to Slate, Manafort also helped reframe Savimbi as a “freedom fighter,” but a Human Rights Report detailed the army’s frequent use of “indiscriminate killings, mutilation of limbs or ears, and beatings.” Sen. Bill Bradley would later observe that this lobbying work only helped to lengthen the civil war.

In 2010, Manafort served as adviser to Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian presidential candidate with ties to Vladimir Putin. Yanukovych ultimately won his election in 2010 but was removed from office in 2014 after years of suppressing his opposition and the press. Many in Ukraine are not happy about Manafort’s involvement in the Trump campaign, with a spokesman for the Ukraine Freedom Support Group saying that Manafort should not be allowed within 100 feet of government buildings, according to The Daily Beast.

3. He Made $200,000 in the Karachi Affair

In addition to the controversy he has generated lobbying for dictators, criticism of Manafort arose when his involvement in the infamous Karachi Affair was revealed. 

In 1994, France made a deal with Pakistan to sell three submarines for a sum of about $1 billion. It was alleged that then Prime Minister Edouard Balladur actually used commissions from this sale to finance his 1995 presidential campaign. Manafort was at the time working to write Balladur’s campaign strategy, and he later admitted to being paid $200,000 from this deal under the table.

According to French 24, Manafort said in 2013 that he was paid by Abdul Rahman el-Assir, one of two middlemen in this controversial arms sale.

4. He Was Involved in a Reagan Administration Scandal

Trump Campaign Convention Manager Paul Manafort on State …Trump Campaign Convention Manager Paul Manafort discusses Trump's tax returns and changing relationship with the GOP, as well as Manafort's own ties with one of Putin's closest allies.2016-05-15T16:41:45.000Z

In the late 1980s, Manafort played a key role in a Reagan Administration scandal involving the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to, Manafort allegedly used his connections at the White House to secure $42 million in rent subsidies and tax credits for a housing project in Seabrook. Local officials did not know about this nor did they want the money, but Manafort was a part-owner of the apartment complex, and his firm received $326,000 for the lobbying work. Supposedly, he obtained the funding in part due to his relationship with Deborah Gore Dean, assistant to HUD Secretary Samuel R. Pierce, Jr.

He said in a subcommittee hearing in 1989 that “you could characterize this as influence peddling.” The subcommittee chairman chastised Manafort for “the politically well-connected cashing in on a program set up to benefit low-income families.” A final report referred to the program as a cash cow milked by the politically well-connected.

5. He Worked for Donald Trump in the 1990s

Donald Trump Montana, Donald Trump Billings, Donald Trump Rally, Donald Trump Paul Manafort

Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Billings, Montana. (Getty)

Though Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign in 2016, this was not his introduction to the New York businessman. Rather, the relationship between Manafort and Trump goes back decades.

According to Slate, in the early 1990s, Trump hired the services of Paul Manafort’s and Roger Stone’s lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly. Trump needed their assistance when he feared the rise of Indian gaming would threaten his Atlantic City casino business.

With the help of Roger Stone, Trump spent thousands of dollars on ads intended to discredit his Indian rivals, including sinister photos of drug paraphernalia alleging the St. Regis Mohawk Indians had connections to criminal activity. New York Gov. George Pataki later fined Donald Trump and Roger Stone $250,000 for this, and although Stone was the one handling the account, Paul Manafort evidently was involved in some capacity, frequently pitching in on the campaign and establishing a relationship with Trump that would pay off decades later. In 2006, Manafort moved into an apartment in Trump Tower, according to The Washington Post.

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