The attempts to distance Trump from Manafort
When Paul Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March of 2016, his history of consulting work for strongmen in Ukraine and elsewhere was well known. So chaotic was the Trump operation, though, that Manafort was widely viewed as the adult in the room, arriving to provide structure ahead of a possible convention fight.
By the following March, the White House had begun attempting to downplay any and all links between President Trump and his former campaign chairman. Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer went so far as to say Manafort had "played a very limited role for a very limited period of time." And on Monday, current Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that the charges against Manafort have "nothing to do with us," adding that most alleged activities took place before the 2016 campaign.