Reviewing ex-manager Paul Manafort's rise and fall in the Trump campaign

PHOTO: Paul Manafort checks the teleprompters before Trumps speech at the Mayflower Hotel, April 27, 2016 in Washington.PlayChip Somodevilla/Getty Images
WATCH The Associated Press reports newly obtained documents show Manafort was paid $10 million to work for a Russian billionaire close to Putin

White House press secretary Sean Spicer today walked back his assertion that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time" during the election cycle, saying he “should have been more precise” in his characterization.

"He had played a significant role in the delegate operations of four [campaigns]," Spicer said of Manafort's earlier work during the conventions for Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

"He got the job done on the [2016] delegates," Spicer said. "He was involved with the campaign in just under five months. Paul was hired to count delegates, that’s why he was brought in ... he did his job.”

Here is a review of Manafort's time with the campaign:

Bringing him aboard

Manafort, 67, joined the Trump campaign on March 29, 2016, when he was named campaign convention manager for the mid-July festivities in Cleveland.

Manafort was "volunteering his considerable insight and expertise because of his belief that Mr. Trump is the right person for these difficult times," a news release from the Trump campaign said at the time.

PHOTO: Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 20, 2016.Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
Donald Trump, flanked by campaign manager Paul Manafort and daughter Ivanka, checks the podium in preparation for accepting the GOP nomination at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, July 20, 2016.

"Paul is a great asset and an important addition as we consolidate the tremendous support we have received in the primaries and caucuses, garnering millions more votes than any other candidate," Donald Trump said, as quoted in the statement.

"Paul Manafort, and the team I am building, bring the needed skill sets to ensure that the will of the Republican voters, not the Washington political establishment, determines who will be the nominee for the Republican Party."

Within weeks of his coming aboard, Manafort made clear his vision for the future of the campaign. At a meeting April 16, Manafort laid out a vision for the Trump campaign that included increasing spending, hiring more staffers and redefining their roles, sources told ABC News at the time.

Drama within the ranks

There was notable palace intrigue as soon as Manafort entered the scene because of reported tensions between him and then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

The drama reached a tipping point June 20 when Lewandowski was fired. Though Lewandowski didn't give a reason for his dismissal, he did say he was no longer running the show leading up to his dismissal.

"Paul Manafort has been in operational control of the campaign since April 7,” Lewandowski told The Associated Press on the day he was fired. “That's a fact.”

Lewandowski, who was hired by CNN as a political commentator days later, also spoke to the network immediately after he was fired, saying only positive things about Manafort.

"Paul helped us grow the campaign and we need to continue to grow to be successful. So everything that Paul did for the campaign is one less thing I had to do,” Lewandowski said. “I'm thankful for that.”

When asked whether his dismissal was the result of a power struggle between him and Manafort, Lewandowski said, "I don't think that's the case."

On May 17, the Trump team reached a fundraising agreement with the Republican National Committee on May 17. The agreement allowed donors to write significantly bigger checks -- up to $449,400 -- to one of two committees that was established to both service the Trump campaign and the RNC as a whole.

The move itself is common in many political campaigns, but it hadn't happened for the Trump campaign until Manafort was effectively at the helm.

Manafort was promoted to campaign chairman and chief strategist on May 19, effectively taking full command at that point.

Russia questions come up

PHOTO: Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena, July 17, 2016, in Cleveland. Matt Rourke/AP Photo
Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena, July 17, 2016, in Cleveland.

The shining moment for the man initially hired to wrangle delegates would predictably be the convention of those delegates. Manafort organized and directed the Republican National Convention which was held in Cleveland, Ohio from July 19-21.

Three days after the RNC wrapped up, Manafort addressed questions that had started to be raised about his and the campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

"Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign and Putin and his regime?" ABC News' George Stephanopoulos asked on "This Week” July 24.

"No, there are not," Manafort said with a chuckle. "It's absurd and there's no basis to it."

In a July 30 interview on NBC's "Meet the Press, Manafort was asked about changes that were made to the Republican party platform in the committee meetings that were held before the convention. One change that drew some attention was the softening of language on how the Republican party treated arms deals with Ukraine and Russia, though Manafort later denied any involvement.

He was asked if he any involvement in the change and Manafort said "I had none. In fact, I didn’t even hear about it until after our convention was over."

"It absolutely did not come from the campaign," he said.

The questions didn't die down over subsequent weeks, however. On Aug. 15, The New York Times reported that Manafort's name appears on a list of so-called black ledger accounts made by the toppled Ukrainian president amounting to $12.7 million from 2007 to 2012.

Manafort released a statement that day denying any wrongdoing.

"The simplest answer is the truth: I am a campaign professional,” he said. “It is well known that I do work in the United States and have done work on overseas campaigns as well. I have never received a single ‘off-the-books cash payment’ as falsely ‘reported’ by The New York Times, nor have I ever done work for the governments of Ukraine or Russia.”

The reports didn't stop there, and The Associated Press reported Aug. 18 that Manafort's firm had lobbied in the United States on behalf of the ruling Ukrainian political party even though Manafort did not disclose his work as a foreign agent, as mandated by federal law.

Manafort's departure from the campaign came the next day. On Aug. 19, Trump released a statement confirming Manafort's exit and praising his work on the campaign.

"This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” Trump said in the statement. “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.”

ABC News' John Santucci and Candace Smith contributed to this report.

Comments