political strategist paul manafort stepped out of the limelight in august 2016, resigning as donald trump ’s campaign manager after his connections to pro-russia oligarchs drew scrutiny and created controversy.
manafort said in a statement that he “never had any connection to [russian president vladimir] putin or the russian government — either directly or indirectly — before during or after the campaign.” trump reiterated manafort’s denials at a white house press conference on february 16, 2017, calling his former campaign manager “a respected man.”
after he left the campaign, manafort told associates leading up to january’s presidential inauguration that he was interested in private-equity deals to invest in with his longtime friend, wealthy trump supporter thomas j. barrack jr.
manafort said he wasn’t interested anymore in lobbying or doing foreign political consulting, as he had done in the past. he lied.
barrack, chairman of trump’s inauguration ceremony, has declined to comment on what if any discussions he’d had with manafort about potential business. in january 2017, his colony northstar, inc., a $60 billion real estate private-equity firm, hired manafort’s girlfriend, andriana albert.
manafort and barrack have been friends for decades. it was barrack, a major trump donor, who suggested that manafort step in to the campaign to help trump prepare for the party’s convention.
after manafort left the trump campaign in august 2016, he and barrack spent time together in the mediterranean aboard the yacht of flavio briatore, an italian mogul who founded the billionaire club, a now-closed nightclub on the sardinian coast. manafort’s former deputy in the trump campaign and in ukraine, rick gates, continued to work with barrack on political activities involving the inauguration and doing business with the kingdom of saudi arabia.