Trump’s National Political Director Steps Back From Campaign

Donald Trump's national political director has taken a "step back" from the campaign, leaving the GOP nominee's operation without a key figure less than three weeks before Election Day.

"I have not resigned but for personal reasons have had to take a step back from the campaign," Jim Murphy said in a statement to Politico on Thursday.

He did not elaborate on the nature of his decision.

Aides reportedly said Murphy had been conspicuously absent from the campaign in recent days, even as his duties would normally be ramping up for the final push to Nov. 8.

A longtime Republican operative, Murphy worked on Bob Dole's 1988 and 1996 presidential campaigns. He was tasked with setting up ground game operations in swing states and was a liaison navigating the delicate communications between the campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Murphy's departure comes as a loss looks likely for the Republican nominee, who has fallen in national and battleground polls and been dogged by allegations of unwanted sexual contact from multiple women.

Trump has lagged in constructing the kind of operational infrastructure typical of a presidential campaign, which is often critical for down-ballot candidates as well. Instead, he has has opted to rely heavily on the RNC, and as a result, his field operation is said to pale in comparison to Democrat Hillary Clinton's.

The departure of a key aide ends a period of relative stability for Trump's senior staff, which has been roiled by turnover multiple times. Murphy came on board with the campaign in June, not long before the ouster of Trump's first campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski.

After surviving allegations he had roughed up a reporter, Lewandowski was pushed out after battling for dominance with Paul Manafort, who was initially hired in March to aid Trump's delegate efforts during the primary election.

Murphy previously worked with Manafort – who also served as the campaign's chairman for a stint – and was given the political director job after his predecessor, Rick Wiley, left amid clashes with Lewandowski.

Manafort resigned from the campaign in August following questions related to his ties to pro-Russia interests. Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon was brought in as the campaign's CEO, and pollster Kellyanne Conway was installed as campaign manager.

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