Will Trump’s campaign staffing changes help or hurt him?

By Alex Bregman

More than 24 hours after Donald’s Trump campaign shakeup, or “expansion,” as his spokespeople are calling it, questions remain about what happens next in Trump’s strategy and what role is left for the campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. A new report by Huffington Post global editorial director and MSNBC analyst Howard Fineman suggests that, going forward, Manafort will have little to no influence on the direction of Team Trump. Fineman spoke to Yahoo News Guest Host Paul Beban about that report and the future of the Trump campaign on “Yahoo News Now.”

So what will Manafort’s role be now that Trump has brought on Stephen Bannon as chief executive of the presidential campaign and promoted Kellyanne Conway to campaign manager? According to Fineman, “His role, to the extent he really has anything substantive to do, is primarily going to be to be the ambassador to what’s left of the Republican establishment that has any willingness to accept Donald Trump and work with Donald Trump.”

Manafort’s business dealings overseas have also been the subject of a number of headlines over the last few weeks, particularly in Ukraine. What did Trump know about Manafort before bringing him onto the campaign? Fineman said, “In a way, Donald Trump and Paul Manafort had been fishing in the same waters for money for quite some time: Donald Trump for loans and business opportunities in post-Soviet Russia; Paul Manafort for political consulting opportunities in the Eastern Block, including in Ukraine.” Fineman continued, “Did Donald Trump do some kind of careful, deep due diligence on exactly who Manafort was working with over there? I seriously doubt it.”

Fineman told Beban that since Manafort was brought onto the campaign in March, his approach has not lived up to expectations: “When he was brought in in the spring, it was thought that that meant Donald Trump’s campaign would turn into a normal, recognizable right-of-center Republican campaign.” He continued, “That hasn’t happened, obviously, and one reason it hasn’t happened is that I think Paul Manafort overestimated his ability to change Donald Trump and Donald Trump didn’t like a lot of the advice, especially in the last few weeks, he was getting from Paul Manafort.”

One incident that epitomized Manafort’s inability to change Trump was when the Republican candidate posted a picture of himself on Twitter eating a taco bowl on the Cinco de Mayo [May 5] holiday. According to Fineman, here’s how that incident played out: “One of the members of the family said ‘Hey, let’s tweet out a picture of you eating a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo. Everybody will love that.’ Well, as I understand it from sources who know about this incident, Paul Manafort politely said, ‘You know, maybe that isn’t a great idea, it might come off as condescending, or a little crude appeal that could backfire, maybe you shouldn’t do that.’” Fineman continued, “He said it politely, but he was the campaign chairman so maybe somebody would listen. Well, nobody listened, and the tweet was sent out and became famous.”

Fineman joked to Beban, “If Steve Bannon [Trump’s new campaign executive] had been in the room during [the taco bowl] incident, Trump would have been wearing a sombrero at the same time.”

What does that say about the future under Bannon? Fineman said, Breitbart “has been very popular, as others have said, it’s sort of the beating heart or the mind at the core of the base of Trump’s thinking. And you are going to see more of that.”

Finally, Fineman told Beban about the role of Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, in the new campaign structure: “She’s going to be at Donald Trump’s side all the time on the airplane, which is going to give her enormous authority.” Fineman continued, “She’s a very hardcore conservative, though, and I don’t think [she’s] going to push him in the direction of establishment thinking in the Republican Party on immigration or Muslims or any of that.”