Chris Hannas VOA News
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump again shook up the leadership of his campaign Wednesday, less than three months before Americans choose who will take over the White House in January.
Trump hired Stephen Bannon, a senior executive at the conservative news website Breitbart, to be campaign chief executive officer and promoted pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager.
Trump’s campaign said Bannon’s position will involve oversight of staff and «major campaign initiatives,» while Conway will focus on «messaging» and frequently travel with the candidate.
In Cleveland, Ohio, host city to the Republican National Convention in July, Trump’s rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, said Trump’s new move will not change the candidate himself. «He is still the same man,» she said in a speech at a high school in the city.
«He is the same man who insults Gold Star [military] families, demeans women, mocks people with disabilities, and thinks he knows more about ISIS [also known as Islamic State] than our generals. There is no new Donald Trump. This is it.»
Trump’s addition of new top advisers appeared to diminish the influence of Paul Manafort, who has been campaign chairman since the nominee fired former campaign chief Corey Lewandowski in June. Trump’s statement, however, said the moves do not affect Manafort’s role.
Manafort has faced scrutiny for his ties to the pro-Russia former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted in 2014. Wednesday’s shakeup comes days after the New York Times reported the existence of secret ledgers in Ukraine that show $12.7 million in cash designated for Manafort. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that sources in Ukraine say Manafort secretly routed at least $2.2 million in payments to two Washington lobbying firms in 2012, in a way that obscured the foreign source of the funds.
Manafort denied receiving any off-the-books cash payments for his work in Ukraine, calling the allegation «unfounded, silly and nonsensical.»
Trump is running for his first elected office and trails his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton by about six percentage points in a range of national polls.
On Wednesday, Trump is expected to get his first official national security briefing, a move that is done to ensure that whomever is chosen as the new president is informed when they take office in January.