Paul Manafort has resigned as Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE’s campaign chairman, the campaign announced in a statement Friday morning.
The move comes two days after the Republican presidential nominee brought in Stephen Bannon as campaign chief executive and Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager in a major shakeup.
The moves were seen as a de facto demotion for Manafort, even though the campaign stressed that he was keeping his position at the time.
“This morning Paul Manafort offered, and I accepted, his resignation from the campaign,” Trump said in a statement.
“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. Paul is a true professional and I wish him the greatest success.”
His resignation also comes amid damaging reports about his involvement with a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. A New York Times investigation last week that found more than $12 million in cash payments secretly earmarked for Manafort.
Those payments, on top of other reports, raised concerns that Manafort may have violated U.S. laws requiring lobbyists to register as “foreign agents” with the Justice Department if they work with other governments.
Those reports only bolstered charges by Democrats that the Trump campaign is too supportive of Russia. Those charges grew when Trump called on Russian hackers to release Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAttorney indicted on charge of lying to FBI as part of Durham investigation Durham seeking indictment of lawyer with ties to Democrats: reports Paul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book MORE's private emails if they were able to hack them.
"Manafort's resignation is a clear admission that the disturbing connections between Donald Trump's team and pro-Kremlin elements in Russia and Ukraine are untenable," said Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, in a statement Friday.
He went on to say that getting rid of Manafort "doesn't end the odd bromance Trump has with Putin."
Eric Trump intimated that the mounting controversies played a role in Manafort's departure during an interview on Fox News.
"My father didn't want to be, you know, distracted by whatever Paul was dealing with," Eric Trump said, lauding Manafort's work for the campaign.
"My father just didn't want to have the distraction looming over the campaign and quite frankly looming over all the issues that Hillary's facing right now."
The Washington Post first reported Manafort’s resignation.
Trump installed Manafort in March to help guide him in case of a contested convention. The GOP operative earned his mettle during Gerald Ford’s convention floor fight in 1976.
At the time, the prospect of a contested convention loomed large, and Trump was thought to have been outgunned by Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails The Memo: Like the dress or not, Ocasio-Cortez is driving the conversation again Ocasio-Cortez defends attendance of Met Gala amid GOP uproar MORE’s larger, more professional campaign.
Manafort, a longtime political operative, clashed with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and other campaign aides who wanted to employ a “let Trump be Trump” strategy.
Manafort's ascent to the newly-created title of campaign chairman and Lewandowski’s exit from the campaign in June were seen as a victory for Manafort and his push toward a more conventional campaign.
But the expected Trump pivot never came. The candidate continued to follow his own path as he became the GOP nominee, delighting his entrenched supporters but worrying establishment Republicans with a series of controversies.
He continues to trail Clinton in swing states and has been massively outgunned by the Democrat on the airwaves. The Trump campaign just reserved its first ad buy of about $4 million. In contrast, Clinton and her allies have already spent more than $50 million.
Trump reportedly grew frustrated with efforts by Manafort and other top aides to rein him in, leading him to bring in Bannon, chairman of the controversial conservative website Breitbart News.
Updated at 1:40 p.m.