President Trump and his cabinet have been steeped in alleged Russian scandals since before he was elected. People have called for investigations, and the FBI has finally agreed to investigate Russian ties to his administration. Amongst this turmoil, former Trump aide Paul Manafort is hiring a crisis manger to deal with the media flocking to him.
Manafort is under fire for “ possible ties to Russia centered on his past consulting work for officials in Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russia government,” The Hill reported. In order to combat much of the allegations being reported by the media, Manafort hired crisis manager Jason Maloni, a former senior vice president and chair of the litigation practice at Levick who formed his own firm, called JadeRoq, late last year. “‘Paul retained me recently because he was getting a lot of media inquiries. Having some support in this area allows folks like you to get your answers faster and allows him to focus on other matters,’” Maloni told The Hill in an email.
With suspicions flying, a crisis manager will be helpful in interacting with the media and fielding the questions that are to come. FBI Director James Comey recently made the public announcement that law enforcement had started investigating possible ties between Trump campaign officials and Russia. Unfortunately for Manafort, he is believed by many to be one of the targets of that investigation. The Associated Press made the claim they learned he “secretly worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to ‘greatly benefit the Putin Government.’” They stated he proposed a confidential strategy plan as early as June 2005 that said he would influence politics in favor of Putin. He eventually “signed a $10 million annual contract beginning in 2006” with “aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska, a close Putin ally with whom Manafort.” According to someone close to the work, they maintained a business relationship until 2009.
As much as these allegations are hurting Manafort, they also hit the White House at a time when many are already being suspected of Russian ties. Sean Spicer acknowledged the suspicions surrounding Manafort and said, “President Trump had not been aware of Manafort’s work on behalf of Deripaska.” The Washington Post in an article “Fresh evidence Trump’s Russia headaches are not going away” noted the White House was not only trying to distance itself from Manafort, but also handle a plethora of other internal issues. For example, according to the Post, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R) accused U.S. spy agencies of “‘abusing’ their surveillance powers by gathering and sharing information about Trump’s transition team – an unproven accusation that stunned observers and threatened to derail his committee’s probe of Russian interference in the presidential race.” Nunes’ statement backfired with the lack of tact in which he reported it. He publicly discussed FISA-approved surveillance as well as attributed his information to an unnamed source, something the Trump Administration as been berating media outlets for. Just like Manafort needs a crisis manager to aid in interacting with the media, it looks like the White House could use a few to manage them as well.