Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and longtime adviser Roger Stone have parted ways, according to both men.
Trump told The Washington Post’s Robert Costa that he had fired Stone late Friday evening, an assertion Stone categorically denied in an email to Business Insider.
Stone told Business Insider he resigned Saturday morning in a letter to Trump.
The news comes as Trump is facing intense scrutiny over comments he made Friday evening about Fox News host Megyn Kelly, with whom he clashed during Thursday night’s first Republican presidential debate.
In the letter, Stone suggested the “current controversies” and Trump’s fights with high-profile media figures have reached such a “high volume that it has distracted attention from your platform and overwhelmed your core message.”
“With this current direction of the candidacy, I no longer can remain involved in your campaign,” Stone wrote in the letter.
A source close to Stone told Business Insider that he was distraught at the escalation of feuds with media figures like Kelly while policy plans and issue papers sat on a shelf, still unapproved by Trump.
Stone is a veteran Republican strategist who once worked for President Richard Nixon, and has been one of Trump’s closest confidantes for a lengthy period of time. He was the chairman of Trump’s exploratory presidential committee in 2000, and a source close to Stone said they have been friends for about 35 years. Costa described Stone as Trump’s “longest serving adviser.”
Trump suggested to Costa that he was “cleaning house” of “publicity seekers.”
“I want to surround myself only with the best and most serious people,” Trump told Costa.
A Trump campaign spokesperson released the following statement:
Mr. Trump fired Roger Stone last night. We have a tremendously successful campaign and Roger wanted to use the campaign for his own personal publicity. He has had a number of articles about him recently and Mr. Trump wants to keep the focus of the campaign on how to Make America Great Again.
And here’s the full text of the letter Stone says he sent to Trump on Saturday morning:
Dear Donald:We have enjoyed a close relationship – both personal and political/professional – since the 1980s. You know that I wish only the best for you.I was proud to have played a role in the launch of your presidential campaign. Your message of “Make America Great Again” harkened back to the Reagan era. Restoring national pride and bringing jobs back to America – your initial and still underlying message – is a solid conservative message. In fact, it catapulted you instantly into a commanding lead in the race.
Unfortunately, the current controversies involving personalities and provocative media fights have reached such a high volume that it has distracted attention from your platform and overwhelmed your core message. With this current direction of the candidacy, I no longer can remain involved in your campaign.
I care about you as a friend and wish you well. I care about our nation, too, and wish it well. Be assured I will continue to be vocal and active in the national debate to ensure our nation does not again turn to the failed and distrusted Bush/Clinton families.
Let’s make America great again!
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