Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortCountering the ongoing Republican delusion Yellen should utilize the resources available before pushing new regulations Huawei paid Tony Podesta 0K for White House lobbying MORE, the former campaign manager of President TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE's insurgent election bid, used a series of letters and memos, as well as connections with the real estate mogul's friends and family, to work his way into the ranks of Trump's campaign, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The documents, the newspaper reported, paint Manafort as an aggressive, anti-establishment operative with global influence and a tireless work ethic, who was willing to indulge Trump's penchant for running a cheap, bare-bones campaign.
Now, months after the Republican operative left Trump's campaign last fall, Manafort finds himself among the central figures in investigations regarding Russian election meddling and possible ties between members of the real estate mogul's team and Moscow.
Manafort has denied any wrongdoing, as well as any collusion with Russia. The businessman and former campaign manager was thrust back into headlines last month after The Associated Press reported that he had worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of the Russian government a decade ago.
How Manafort's relationship with Trump developed – and how he rose through the ranks of the campaign – could be a part of upcoming Senate hearings on possible coordination between members of Trump's campaign and the Kremlin.
The two men first connected through a mutual friend, real estate investor Thomas Barrack, through whom Manafort sent his first memos to Trump, according to the Times. Barrack also delivered to Trump a letter describing Manafort as “the most experienced and lethal of managers," the report said.
Also in that letter, Barrack made Manafort's even more appealing to Trump, writing that “he would do this in an unpaid capacity.”
A key focus of Manafort's early communications with Trump was his international work, as well as his status as a Washington outsider, isolated from the politics and influence of the nation's capital.
“I have managed Presidential campaigns around the world," Manafort wrote. “I have had no client relationships dealing with Washington since around 2005. I have avoided the political establishment in Washington since 2005.”
Before reaching Trump himself, Manafort's pitch was passed to the real estate mogul's elder daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, both of whom now work in Trump's White House.
In March of 2016, Manafort had been hired by the Trump campaign to organize its delegate operations at the Republican National Convention. By June, the operative had taken over as Trump's campaign manager – a post he held only briefly until August.
The White House has sought to distance Manafort from the campaign, as the spotlight of the Russia probes has apparently turned toward him.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said last month during a daily press briefing that Manafort played only a "limited" role on the Trump team.
Spicer later said he should have been "more precise" about Manafort's role, while saying Trump didn't know about the former aide's clients from the mid-2000s