White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Manafort, who led Trump's successful 2016 bid for the Republican presidential nomination "played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time". In fact, Manafort was hired in late March as Trump's convention manager, and was promoted to campaign chairman in May. And when campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was sacked in June, Manafort - who butted heads with Lewandowski - was widely seen as the campaign's top official. Toward the end of the primary calendar in mid-April, Manafort and Rick Wiley were reportedly given control of the campaign, as campaign manager Corey Lewandowski took on a smaller role.
The resignation came amid a New York Times report that Manafort received $12.7 million in secret cash payments earmarked for Manafort from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.
"Well, I think, two things", Spicer said. Manafort resigned that day.
"If you actually had Trump people working with the Russians, that would be a historical scandal", Himes said.
During a congressional hearing Monday examining Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible connections between Moscow and Trump's aides, FBI Director James Comey was asked about various campaign advisers and staffers, including Carter Page, whom Trump once named as one of his foreign policy advisers.
FBI "is investigating the alleged Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts".
"Just because he heads there doesn't mean that [he's golfing]", Spicer said.
Some commentators said Spicer appeared "shaken―even frightened" during the briefing.
"I believe Paul was brought on sometime in June and by the middle of August he was no longer with the campaign, meaning that for the entire final stretch of the general election, he was not involved".
Flynn, meanwhile, was one of the president's closest advisers throughout the campaign and the transition, frequently traveling on his plane.
"For Mr. Spicer's sake, let me be clear once again: Though I have not seen specific evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, there is quite a bit of circumstantial evidence that suggests collusion may have occurred, including confirmation just this morning that the FBI is investigating potential collusion between the campaign and Russian officials", Coons said.