Trump Wants to Bring Felon He Pardoned Onto His Campaign: Report

Paul Manafort worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, was a central figure in Robert Mueller’s investigation into the campaign’s ties to Russia, and ultimately served prison time for a slew of financial crimes. Trump pardoned Manafort before he left office, and now wants to bring him onto his campaign to retake the White House, according to The Washington Post.

Manafort, a longtime lobbyist and fixture in Republican politics, served as the chairman of Trump’s 2016 campaign before being ousted from the role that August. His ties to Russia drew the attention of Mueller, who charged him with several crimes, including hiding money he made lobbying on behalf of Russia-friendly politicians like former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. He was also accused of lying to Mueller about his relationship with Konstantin Kilimnik, a well-connected Russian with whom he allegedly shared internal polling data. The Post notes that the bipartisan Senate committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election 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.”

Manafort was found guilty in 2018 on eight counts stemming from Mueller’s investigation, and sentenced to nearly eight years in prison in early 2019. Trump let him off the hook the following December, a month before he left office. “As a result of blatant prosecutorial overreach, Mr. Manafort has endured years of unfair treatment and is one of the most prominent victims of what has been revealed to be perhaps the greatest witch hunt in American history,” the White House said in a statement.

The Post reported on Monday that Trump is now “determined” to bring Manafort onto his 2024 campaign, and that discussions about a potential role have centered around fundraising and the Republican National Convention in July. The New York Times confirmed later on Monday that Manafort is in discussions to return to Trump’s campaign to help with the convention.

It’s unclear whether Manafort will actually join Trump’s campaign, or what inspired the former president to want to rehire him despite the problems Manafort caused during his term in the White House. Trump may now feel a little solidarity with his former campaign chief, as Trump himself has in the last year been contending with a bevy of legal issues related to his finances, as well as being charged with felonies related to his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election and his retention of classified material after leaving the White House.

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