Manafort claims Trump apologized for insulting Cruz’s wife and dad before 2016 snub – The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign chair has contradicted Sen. Ted Cruz’s claims that Trump never apologized for calling his wife ugly and linking his dad to the JFK assassination – a lack of remorse Cruz cited when he refused to endorse the future president at the GOP convention.

Cruz’s defiance infuriated Trump. GOP delegates heckled and booed him offstage. Fellow Texans jeered the next morning when Cruz insisted that he would not roll over “like a servile puppy” for a rival who’d maligned those closest to him.

Months later, when the rancor had subsided and he’d explicitly and publicly endorsed Trump, Cruz still asserted he’d never gotten an apology.

That’s not the version in a tell-all book by Paul Manafort, who chaired Trump’s campaign in summer 2016. He was later imprisoned, then pardoned by Trump.

“On his own initiative, Trump did apologise for saying some of the things he said about Cruz, which was unusual for Trump,” Manafort writes in Political Prisoner: Persecuted, Prosecuted, but Not Silenced, according to The Guardian, which obtained a copy ahead of its Aug. 16 release.

Manafort says Trump apologized face to face during a meeting in which Cruz agreed to work with him, but made clear he would not formally endorse at that point “because his supporters didn’t want him to…. It was a forced justification for someone who is normally very logical. Trump didn’t buy it.”

Even so, Manafort writes, according to The Guardian, Trump granted a prime-time speaking slot for Cruz at the July 2016 convention. And he apologized, telling “Cruz he considered him an ally, not an enemy,” and that they could work together once Trump won the White House – which they did.

The Cruz camp disputes Manafort’s account.

“Like most of the things Manafort says, it’s complete, utter BS. Total fiction. Did not happen,” a senior Cruz adviser at the time said Thursday.

Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort walks around the convention floor before the opening...
Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort walks around the convention floor before the opening session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Monday.(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Pres)

In his convention speech, Cruz urged Republicans to “vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution.”

With Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee, a preference for Trump was implicit But it was lost on no one that Cruz avoided saying he would vote for Trump or that others should, too, and delegates soon became angry.

“There is a lot of talk about unity. I want to see unity. And the way to see unity is for us to unite behind shared principles,” Cruz said – a clear swipe at Trump, whose fealty to conservative principles was very much in doubt at the time.

Backstage, Trump fumed as Cruz spoke and finally blurted “This is bull—-” before entering the hall to show disapproval, Manafort recounts in his book, “effectively pulling the attention away from Cruz and undercutting his speech.”

Manafort accuses Cruz aides of “double dealing” for how the speech turned out.

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaving the federal...
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, leaving the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va., after his arraignment March 8, 2018.(AL DRAGO / NYT)

Manafort chaired Trump’s campaign from May to August 2016, a tenure that included the nominating convention in Cleveland, He came under fire over past lobbying work on behalf of pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarchs, and he resigned from the campaign under pressure a month after the convention.

Manafort was among the first people charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. He was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for financial crimes related to his work in Ukraine, Trump pardoned him a month before leaving office.

Cruz had plenty of reasons for bitterness.

In March 2016, the National Enquirer – run by a close friend of Trump – reported without proof he’d been caught cheating with five mistresses.

Trump then retweeted a meme with a glamor shot of future first lady Melania Trump juxtaposed with an especially unflattering photo of Heidi Cruz, snarling.

Cruz accused him of being a “sniveling coward.”

Two month’s later, the National Enquirer “reported” that Cruz’s father, pastor Rafael Cruz, a Cuban immigrant, had a role in the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, based on a blurry photo that purported to show him with Lee Harvey Oswald.

Trump, who’d needled his rival as “Lyin’ Ted” through the primaries, gleefully spread the far-fetched story.

He dusted it off again the day after Cruz’s convention speech: “I know nothing about his father, I know nothing about Lee Harvey Oswald, but there was a picture on the front page of the National Enquirer, which does have credibility,” Trump said, insisting that at that point, “I don’t want his endorsement. What difference does it make?”

The duo would later reconcile, and then some.

Trump put Cruz high on his list of potential Supreme Court picks. Cruz was a leading defender during his two impeachment trials, and promoted Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The day after Cruz’s convention speech in that incident, Manafort accused Cruz of violating a pledge he and other contenders had made to support the eventual nominee.

“Senator Cruz, a strict constitutionalist, chose not to accept the strict terms of the pledge he signed. As far as the contract was concerned, he was the one in violation. Not anybody else,” Manafort told reporters, insisting that Trump had only entered the hall to be in place to hear his son, Eric Trump, speak next, not as a provocation.

Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, described civil negotiations with Manafort that led to the primetime slot but acknowledged that “they were less than pleased that we weren’t going to go for a full endorsement.”

As for the pledge, Roe said the day after the convention speech, “What Donald Trump said about his family — that was the end of the pledge. This is an ingrained sense of fairness and honor.”

Manafort chaired Trump’s campaign from May to August 2016, a tenure that included the nominating convention in Cleveland, He came under fire over past lobbying work on behalf of pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarchs, and he resigned from the campaign under pressure a month after the convention.

Manafort was among the first people charged as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. He was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for financial crimes related to his work in Ukraine, Trump pardoned him a month before leaving office.

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