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Paul Manafort, a longtime Republican strategist who served as chairman of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 campaign, has recently begun advising efforts for the upcoming Republican National Convention. The 75-year-old Manafort, who has a history of working as a lobbyist for foreign governments and managing past Republican conventions, was present for meetings in Milwaukee, where the July convention is set to take place. His involvement with the convention has been anticipated for some time, with Trump advisers considering bringing him on in an unpaid capacity to assist with the event, although this decision has sparked controversy.

Manafort’s political career includes serving as an adviser for Bob Dole’s presidential campaign in 1996 and managing the Republican convention that year. He joined Trump’s 2016 campaign in the spring, when the candidate was facing efforts to block his nomination at the convention by depriving him of necessary delegates. However, Manafort’s time with the campaign was short-lived, as he was ousted in August 2016 amid scrutiny over his connections to a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. Subsequently, he became entangled in the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into potential ties between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

Unlike many of his fellow Trump advisers, Manafort was sentenced to prison as a result of the investigation. However, he was later pardoned by Trump at the conclusion of his presidential term, with the former president commending Manafort for refusing to cooperate with the government inquiry. Recent reports suggest that Manafort has resumed work for foreign interests and political figures, including a Chinese entertainment streaming service, although he denied his involvement with the service but acknowledged making introductions to potential U.S. partners.

Manafort’s specific role in the upcoming convention remains unclear, but he is expected to advise on the staffing structure of the platform committee while avoiding direct involvement in the platform’s content, according to sources familiar with the matter. The platform discussion at this year’s convention holds significance for the party, as in 2020, the Republican Party did not adopt a new platform due to changes in convention plans prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, the party reverted to the platform from 2016, in which language supporting Ukraine with military aid against Russian aggression was notably softened.

During his investigation, Mueller sought information about the alteration of platform language concerning Ukraine, an issue that had received little attention at the time but has gained renewed interest given Manafort’s involvement in the current convention. As discussions about the platform for this year’s convention unfold, Manafort’s connections to foreign entities and his history of controversial political work are likely to draw scrutiny and raise questions about the influence he may have on shaping the party’s stance on key policy issues. The reemergence of Manafort in the political sphere underscores the enduring controversies surrounding him and his continued involvement in high-stakes political events.

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