Because he plays no role in the administration, it would be “inappropriate” to comment on him.
White House chief spokesman Sean Spicer distanced President Donald Trump from his former campaign chairman Wednesday, saying that to do so would not be appropriate.
The issue arose following an Associated Press report that former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was paid millions to promote the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin.
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on a person who is not a White House employee,” Spicer told reporters Wednesday, according to NBC national correspondent Peter Alexander.
BREAKING: Re: Manafort, Spicer tells me: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on a person who is not a White House employee.”
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) March 22, 2017
The Associated Press reported that in 2006, Manafort signed a $10 million annual contract with Russian billionaire businessman Oleg Deripaska, a Putin friend, to promote Russian interests and undermine anti-Russian sentiment across the former Soviet republic.
One year before they entered into the agreement, Manafort sent a memo to Deripaska promoting the agreement.
“We are now of the belief that this model can greatly benefit the Putin Government if employed at the correct levels with the appropriate commitment to success,” Manafort wrote in the 2005 memo.
When asked for comment by the AP, Manafort said that his work was purely a business arrangement that was void of politics.
“I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments,” Manafort said. “My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russia’s political interests.”
Spicer told reporters Monday that Manafort “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time” in the Trump presidential campaign.
Manafort worked without pay for the Trump campaign from March to August, 2016, when Steve Bannon replaced him as campaign chairman during a controversial shake-up.
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