Roger Stone, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s longtime friend and adviser, repeatedly lashed out at media outlets for reporting that recent campaign hires amounted to a “shake-up” that might have an impact on chairman Paul Manafort’s role with the campaign. Stone said earlier this week that “Manafort’s not going anywhere," but Manafort, who is Stone’s friend and former business partner, announced his resignation from the campaign this morning.
On Wednesday, the Trump campaign announced that Steve Bannon had been hired as the campaign CEO and Kellyanne Conway would take on the role of campaign manager. Numerous media outlets reported on the move as a “shake-up” of the campaign’s leadership
The New York Times reported of Manafort's resignation:
Mr. Manafort left nearly a week after a New York Times report about problems within the Republican presidential nominee’s campaign helped precipitate a leadership shake-up. His departure reflects repeated efforts to steady a campaign that has been frequently roiled by the unpredictable behavior of its tempestuous first-time candidate.
Mr. Manafort was also dogged by reports about secretive efforts he made to help the former pro-Russian government in Ukraine, where he has worked on and off over several years.
Prior to Manafort’s departure, Stone was lashing out at media outlets like The New York Times for describing the new hires as a “shake-up,” claiming that reporters were being spun by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
For example, in an appearance on WIOD’s Fernand Amandi Show on Wednesday, Stone said that claims that Manafort had been demoted “may be the Corey Lewandowski spin, but it’s just not accurate. Manafort’s not going anywhere. Spoke to him this morning, he’s very pleased with this expansion.”
On Newsmax TV’s Steve Malzberg Show, Stone said, “The mainstream media interpretation that this is somehow a demotion for Paul Manafort -- that was actually removed from the later editions of the New York Times story because it isn’t true. I recognize that the ousted and now disgraced campaign manager Corey Lewandowski – really an advance man – continues to spin this. But I don’t understand why he thinks that is helpful to the campaign.”
After calling Lewandowski a “loser,” who was replaced by “an adult,” Stone added, “I see this as an expansion of the campaign. I don’t think anybody was demoted, and it’s not a ‘shake-up’ because shake-up means that someone lost their job, and no one has lost their job. The team remains intact. [Paul] Manafort, [Tony] Fabrizio, [Kellyanne] Conway, [Steve] Bannon. This is an all-star lineup.”
Appearing on The Alex Jones Show, Stone said Bannon was “not replacing Paul Manafort,” adding, “This isn’t a shake-up, it’s an expansion.” Jones agreed and said Bannon was “augmenting things.” After news of Manafort’s departure broke, Stone reportedly told Mic, “There is an easy explanation for this: Manafort became concerned that the contrived and unfounded attacks by him, all peddled by the Clinton spin machine, would become a distraction and fuel the whole Russia-Trump-Putin-Manafort narrative of the Clintons.” He added, “Manafort did what Corey Lewandowski should have done when he was accused of manhandling a woman: He stepped aside. That's a pro.”