Donald Trump’s embattled Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort resigned from the campaign on Friday, Aug. 19, as Trump visited the flood-torn state of Louisiana.
Trump, joined by running mate Mike Pence (R-Ind.), visited Baton Rouge to survey the flood damage that killed at least 13 people and displaced thousands more.
Manafort’s resignation continues the campaign’s shakeup, which started on Thursday and saw the promotion of Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager and the hiring of Breitbart executive Stephen K. Bannon as CEO of the campaign.
In a statement about Manafort, Trump praised the Chairman for his help getting him nominated.
“I am very appreciative for his great work in helping to get us where we are today, and in particular his work guiding us through the delegate and convention process,” Trump wrote.
The resignation comes after a New York Times report on Monday alleging $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments in a handwritten ledger to Manafort from former Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych’s political party.
Manafort vehemently denied these claims as “unfounded, silly and nonsensical,” and accused the New York Times of political bias.
On Thursday, however, the Associated Press published a report that they obtained emails that showed Manafort directly orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Yanukovych, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country’s pro-Russian government.
Eric Trump told Fox News in an interview that will air Sunday that his father’s worried questions about Manafort’s past were taking attention away from the billionaire’s presidential bid.
“I think my father didn’t want to be, you know, distracted by whatever things Paul was dealing with,” Eric Trump said.
Trump’s trip to the state helps distance his candidacy from Manafort’s scandals, capitalizing on criticism of a vacationing President Obama, for not cutting short his vacation to visit the state in its time of crisis.
“It is good Trump and Pence are going to Louisiana to help fellow Americans who are in pain,” tweeted former House speaker and Trump surrogate, Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). “Sad that Obama can’t leave vacation for one day.”
It is good Trump and Pence are going to Louisiana to help fellow Americans who are in pain.Sad that Obama cant leave vacation for one day.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) August 19, 2016
Others have compared Obama’s handling of Louisiana’s floods to George W. Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which plagued the rest of the Bush presidency.
The Governor of Louisiana, Democrat John Bel Edwards, however, said that he preferred for the President not to come to the state just yet, so that local police and first responders didn’t have to be pulled off rescue missions to provide protection for the president.
“Quite frankly that is not something that I want to go through right now. And so while the president is welcome to visit, I would just as soon he give us another a week or two, get back to a greater sense of normalcy here,” Edwards said in Baton Rouge, according to a report by ABC.
He also said that he won’t be involved in Trump’s visit, saying Thursday that the Republican candidate is welcome to come to the state, “but not for a photo-op.”
Trump is using Obama’s absence as a way to further contrast their approach to leadership and send a positive message for a state in crisis. In his speech the previous night to a North Carolina crowd, Trump said, “When one state hurts, we all hurt.”
We are one nation. When one state hurts, we all hurt. We must all work together – to lift each other up. pic.twitter.com/XoDkW5X3Wy
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2016
As of Friday, 2 p.m., the president has not made a statement about the flooding, although the White House has said that he’s getting regular updates. He’s due back in Washington on Sunday.
Because of the trip, Trump is delaying a rally previously scheduled for 3:30 p.m. in Dimondale, Michigan, to 5 p.m. ET.