White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer downplayed the role of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, at a press briefing Monday.
The statement came at the same time the House Intelligence Committee held hearings about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential race.
Spicer told the press:
“Obviously there’s been discussion of Paul Manafort, who played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time.”
According to CNN, Manafort was promoted in May of 2016 to campaign chairman and chief strategist during the election. Manafort resigned in August, shortly after it surfaced that he received $12.7 million in secret cash payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
Later in the briefing, Spicer wanted to clarify what he meant. Misstating the month Manafort began, he said Manafort wasn’t there until the end, thus not playing a big part:
“With respect to Paul, though, I believe … Paul was brought on sometime in June and by the middle of August he was no longer with the campaign, meaning for the final stretch of the general election, he was not involved.”
Spicer also said Michael Flynn was just a “volunteer” on the campaign. Flynn would go on to take on the role of White House National Security Adviser after Inauguration Day, before getting the boot for his conversations about easing Russian sanctions with the Russian ambassador to the United States.