Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, was not involved with transition decisions. When asked if Manafort had a role in transition hiring decisions, press secretary Sean Spicer said, "Not to my knowledge, at all."
The AP reported that about a decade ago, Manafort worked for a Russian billionaire to promote the interest of Russian President Vladimir Putin, which prompted questions about if Manafort pushed a pro-Russian agenda. Intelligence shows Russia interfered with the election.
In November, Manafort was seen by the press at Trump Tower. Sources who worked on the transition told Circa that Manafort did not work on the transition. Instead, they suggested that he could have been spotted because he owns an apartment in Trump Tower.
Manafort left the campaign in August after reports surfaced that he had done extensive work in Ukraine for a pro-Russian political party.
On Wednesday, Spicer told reporters, "Paul was hired as I said to count delegates [at the Republican National Convention]. That's why he was brought in, as he had been for George W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Bob Dole. He did his job. That's what he was there for."
Spicer also tried to tap down speculation that the new report is a sign of collusion between Russia and Trump.
"Numerous individuals, including former Obama director of national intelligence, James Clapper, and acting CIA director Mike Morrell, and members of the intelligence community from both parties who have been briefed, have said across the board that they have seen zero evidence of any collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials," Spicer said. "And that's not going to be changed by former business dealings of a campaign staffer from a decade ago."
Even though the information obtained by Russia during the election cast Clinton in a negative light, Spicer pointed reporters towards relationships Hillary Clinton's family and staffers had with Russia.
"Last year -- not last decade -- Tony Podesta lobbied against sanctions for Russia's largest bank. And John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chair, sat on the board of a Russian-based energy company. This was something tied to Hillary Clinton, who was the face of the failed Russia reset policy," Spicer said.
"Hillary's husband, former President Bill Clinton, received over half a million dollars by a paid speech by a bank connected to the uranium deal," Spicer continued. "And Vladimir Putin personally called the former president and thanked him for giving the speech."