Feb. 16, 2017
During a press conference at the White House, Trump called Manafort "a respected man" and dismissed questions about reports of Manafort's ties to foreign political parties or governments.
"People knew that" Manafort had worked for the Ukrainian government before joining his presidential campaign, the president said.
Trump then went on to downplay Manafort's role in his election.
"He was replaced long before the election. You know that, right? He was replaced long before the election. When all of this stuff started coming out, it came out during the election. But Paul Manafort, who’s a good man also, by the way -- Paul Manafort was replaced long before the election took place. He was only there for a short period of time," Trump said.
March 20, 2017
Two days later, Spicer said he "should have been more precise" in his characterization of Manfort's role in the campaign.
Aug. 10, 2017
Trump called the raid "pretty tough stuff" and complimented Manafort by saying he found him "to be a very decent man."
But he also downplayed his connections to Manafort.
"I know Mr. Manafort -- I haven't spoken to him in a long time, but I know him. He was with the campaign, as you know, for a very short period of time, relatively short period of time. But I’ve always known him to be a good man," Trump said.