Longtime Roger Stone Ally Paul Manafort Gets Larger Role In Trump’s Campaign

Donald Trump has elevated strategist Paul Manafort within his presidential campaign. The increased role is a win for Roger Stone, a dirty trickster who reportedly recommended Manafort to Trump and has been Manafort’s longtime friend and former business partner.

Stone has long been a friend and adviser to Trump, and he now heads a pro-Trump super PAC. He formed the anti-Hillary Clinton group C.U.N.T. in 2008 and has spent much of the 2016 cycle pushing smears about the Clintons. He has a history of lobbing racist and sexist attacks against media figures, and was recently banned by CNN and MSNBC. Stone has been under fire this week for his stated plan to “disclose the hotels and the room numbers of those delegates who are directly involved in” allegedly stealing the nomination from Trump at the Republican convention.

The New York Times reported on April 7 that Trump is “reboot[ing]” his campaign by giving a “stepped-up role” to Manafort. Media outlets have reported that campaign manager Corey Lewandowski sees Manafort as a “threat” to his power. Stone, who left the Trump campaign last year after reportedly clashing with Lewandowski, has criticized Trump’s campaign manager in the media.

Manafort and Stone co-founded the lobbying and consulting firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly (BMS&K). The Washington Post noted that BMS&K “garnered considerable scrutiny for their tactics and clients”:

Manafort is the co-founder of two lobby and consulting firms, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly (BMS&K) and, later, Davis Manafort. Even in the lobbying industry, where the buying and selling of influence can blur ethical lines, both businesses garnered considerable scrutiny for their tactics and clients.

BMS&K, founded in 1980, was investigated by a congressional panel in 1989 for its role in obtaining millions of dollars in federal grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to rehabilitate a low-income housing complex in New Jersey.

In exchange, Manafort and his partners received consulting fees from developers. During the investigation, Manafort acknowledged that the work he performed in return for consulting fees could be termed “influence peddling,” The Post reported in 1991. The firm was sold to public relations giant Burson-Marsteller in 1991 for an undisclosed price.

BMS&K also appears to be the early link that connected Manafort and Trump decades ago. The firm lobbied on behalf of the Trump Organization on gaming, taxes and other issues related to Trump’s hotels, at both the federal and state levels in New York and Florida, said lobbyist and GOP strategist Charlie Black, Manafort’s former business partner.

Stone has frequently talked up Manafort’s credentials in media appearances.  

“[Manafort is] the single best vote counter and convention strategist in the Republican Party,” Stone said during a March 29 appearance on Fox Business.

“My partner Paul Manafort, partner of 15 years, a friend of mine of almost 50 years, someone I’ve known since childhood, is without any question the single best convention organizer and strategist in the country,” Stone said on an April 6 appearance on The Alex Jones Show. “Whether the Trump campaign gives him the authority and the resources he needs to score a win for Donald Trump remains to be seen.”

After news of Manafort’s increased role broke, Stone tweeted an old picture of himself with Manafort and wrote, “I have every confidence @realDonaldTrump will be nominated with the experienced leadership of Paul Manafort.”