Trump set to hire ex-convicts as advisers for White House bid

Donald Trump is reportedly rehiring ex-campaign manager, Paul Manafort to join him in his 2024 campaign
Donald Trump is reportedly keen to rehire Paul Manafort, who went to prison for tax fraud and witness tampering - Rick Wilking/REUTERS
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Donald Trump is in talks to rehire controversial former advisers for his 2024 campaign, including former convicts and far-Right figures.

After securing the Republican nomination, the former president has reportedly turned to a series of former staff members for help on his general election campaign against Joe Biden.

Mr Trump is considering hiring Paul Manafort, who went to prison for tax fraud and witness tampering. He has also conducted several meetings with Roger Stone, who was convicted of obstructing a congressional probe, according to US media reports.

Corey Lewandowski, Mr Trump’s former campaign manager, is also thought to be under consideration after he was ousted from a job at a Trump-aligned fundraising group amid accusations he sexually harassed the wife of a donor.

The meetings, reported by the New York Times, Washington Post and Axios, suggest Mr Trump is considering reassembling his 2016 campaign team for his third shot at the White House.

Roger Stone arriving with his wife for his sentencing hearing at the DC Federal District Court in Washington, DC in Feb 2020
Roger Stone at his sentencing hearing in February 2020 - Samuel Corum/REX

Mr Stone worked on the first campaign, and has given advice to politicians to “admit nothing, deny everything and launch a counterattack”.

He was jailed in 2020 for obstructing the Mueller probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. His sentence was commuted by Mr Trump, who was president at the time.

In 2020, at the Jan 6 Capitol riots, Mr Stone urged followers to “fight on until the bitter end”.

Mr Manafort, who is reportedly being considered for a campaign role, was imprisoned for tax fraud and witness tampering and was accused of lying to investigators in the Mueller probe.

The Senate Intelligence Committee said that Mr Manafort’s ties to a Russian intelligence officer during the campaign “represented a grave counterintelligence threat”.

Paul Manafort arrives in court in 2019, after being charged for tax fraud
Paul Manafort arrives in court in 2019, after being charged for tax fraud - Seth Wenig/AP

Mr Lewandowski was an early hire on Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign, before moving to work at the Trump-aligned Super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc.

He left the job in 2021 after he was accused of sexually harassing the wife of a donor. A spokesman for Mr Trump said at the time that he “will no longer be associated with Trump World”.

A representative for Mr Lewandowski at the time described the allegations as “accusations and rumours”.

Corey Lewandowski rallying up Philadelphia supporters as 2020 election votes continue to be counted
Corey Lewandowski at a Philadelphia rally in 2020 - Eduardo Munoz/REUTERS

In recent months, Mr Trump has also reportedly suggested hiring Laura Loomer, a far-Right pundit and journalist, but was persuaded by his aides not to pursue her.

Ms Loomer has described herself as a “proud Islamophobe” and Islam as a “cancer on humanity”.

The news comes as Mr Trump’s wife, Melania, suggested she may soon rejoin him on the campaign trail after few public appearances in recent months.

The former first lady walked arm in arm with Mr Trump at a polling station in Palm Beach prior to his resounding victory in Florida’s Republican presidential candidate ballot on Tuesday.

It was the first time they had been seen together out in public since the funeral of Mr Trump’s mother-in-law on Jan 18.

Trump campaign officials have previously posted videos of the couple together at their Mar-a-Lago home during private events, most recently when they hosted Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, earlier this month.

Asked by a reporter in Florida if she would be joining him on the campaign trail ahead of November’s election, Mrs Trump smiled and said: “Stay tuned.”

On Tuesday, Mr Trump notched up several more victories in the Republican primary race, after becoming the party’s presumptive nominee on March 12.

Despite the former president reaching the threshold of convention delegates to secure the nomination, around 13 per cent of Republicans in Florida voted for Nikki Haley as their nominee.

Ms Haley ended her campaign on March 6, after the results of the “Super Tuesday” primaries, but refused to endorse Mr Trump. She won two primaries, in Washington, DC, and Vermont, but lost to Mr Trump in every other state.

Mr Trump also won primaries in Arizona, Illinois, Kansas and Ohio on Tuesday.

The Trump campaign was contacted for comment.

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