Top advisers to Bernie Sanders, including one with ties to Paul Manafort, just abruptly left his 2020 campaign

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign on Tuesday lost several of his top strategists.
  • Tad Devine, Mark Longabaugh, and Julian Mulvey, partners at the consulting firm DML, abruptly announced they’re leaving the campaign over “creative” differences.
  • The Sanders campaign said the departure was amicable.
  • Devine formally worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and has been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office.

Several of Sen. Bernie Sander’s top advisers abruptly broke ties with the Vermont senator’s 2020 campaign on Tuesday, including one adviser with ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Tad Devine, Mark Longabaugh, and Julian Mulvey announced Tuesday that they no longer with the Sanders campaign. The three advisers work together in the same firm, DML, and were a key part of Sanders’ 2016 campaign.

“We are leaving because we believe that Sen. Sanders deserves to have media consultants who share his creative vision for the campaign,” Devine, Longabaugh, and Mulvey said in a joint statement first reported by NBC News.

According to the statement, DML produced 275 ads for the 2016, including a popular ad featuring the Simon & Garfunkel song “America,” and helped with overall strategy.

In a statement to INSIDER, the Sanders campaign maintained that the split was amicable.

“The campaign appreciates all the good work DML has done and wishes them well,” Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said.

The departure comes after increased public scrutiny into Devine’s past work with Manafort as a consultant in Ukraine, NBC reported.

Manafort and Devine worked together to help the pro-Russia Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych in 2010. Yanukovych was eventually ousted during the Ukrainian revolution in 2014 and now lives in exile in Russia.

Devine, who was chief strategist for Sanders in 2016, last year revealed he’s cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference.

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“The Special Counsel has asked Tad Devine to appear and testify about media consulting work on past political campaigns in Ukraine,” DML said in a statement in July 2018. “We have been assured by the Special Counsel’s Office that we have no legal exposure, did not act unlawfully, and that Tad is testifying as a fact witness.”

Manafort was found guilty of numerous financial crimes and on February 15, Mueller’s office recommended a sentence of up to 24.5 years in prison for Manafort.

The Sanders campaign did not address Devine’s history with Manafort when asked by INSIDER about the nature of his departure.

The move by DML also comes as the 2020 Sanders campaign pushes to make substantial changes to the 2016 campaign’s structure.

Sanders has stressed the need for a more diverse campaign staff in recent weeks and continues to face pressure over sexual harassment allegations against male members of his 2016 campaign by former staffers, which Sanders has pledged to address with increased training and support for staff in 2020.

In a recent interview with The Young Turks, Sanders vowed to have a very, very diverse” campaign staff.

“We have been criticized, correctly so, for running a campaign that was too white and too male-oriented, and that is going to change,” Sanders said.