Donald Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, tendered his resignation today, saying that he would step down from the campaign. The move follows reports about Manafort's lobbying connections to a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine, as well as a restructuring of the top of the campaign: In a leadership shakeup earlier this week, Trump brought on Breitbart CEO Stephen Bannon and Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway to lead his campaign.
Manafort's exit is the latest sign that Trump is likely change little from how he ran during the Republican primary. Manafort has always been the chief proponent of the idea that Trump would significantly alter his tone and approach during the general election.
In April, shortly after joining Trump, The New York Times obtained a leaked recording of Manafort telling Republican National Committee (RNC) members, "That's what's important for you to understand: That he [Trump] gets it, and that the part he's been playing is evolving." What Manafort was promising was a campaign turnaround. Trump's "negatives are going to come down," he said at the time, "the image is going to change, but Clinton is still going to be crooked Hillary."
The claim was difficult to believe at the time, and in the end, the turnaround didn't happen. In the weeks since the party conventions, Trump has taken a nose-dive in the polls and continued to frustrate even those in his party who say they support him, with reports circulating that the RNC may cut funding to Trump's operation. Even those who work directly for him in his campaign have been grousing anonymously that Trump lacks the discipline and desire to run his campaign effectively.
Trump last night offered a vague expression of regret—though not quite an apology—for unspecified statements that may have caused "personal pain," but otherwise seems intent on sticking with the same basic strategy going forward, perhaps with some adjusted tactics implemented by his campaign's new leadership. Manafort promised a new direction, and a new Trump, but the candidate effectively promised otherwise. His resignation today, in other words, is further evidence that Trump is not playing a part, that his image will not change, and that Trump is likely to maintain his essential character for the duration of the campaign.