Friday, 16 November, 2018

Paul Manafort Pleads Guilty, Agrees To Cooperate With Prosecutors

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort Jose Luis Magana Associated Press File Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort
Ebony Burgess | 15 September, 2018, 12:15

Paul Manafort's decision to plead guilty and cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, after many months of playing the silent tough guy, would not be surprising to anyone who ever endured the ordeal of facing a federal criminal prosecution.

It is now unclear what Manafort has offered the special counsel in return for the lighter charge sheet, but multiple news outlets have speculated that it could be damaging information on Trump and alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now representing Mr Trump in the Russian Federation probe, said on Friday before the hearing that a guilty plea would not crush Manafort's chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon.

In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24 before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

Manafort is expected to appear in court later Friday morning.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has pleaded guilty to two federal charges as part of a cooperation deal with prosecutors.

There was no sentencing Friday, and Manafort is still detained in prison in Alexandria.

Manafort attended the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in which Kremlin-backed attendees promised to offer damaging information about Trump's 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.

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Manafort had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty.

Speaking at the hearing before US District Court judge Amy Berman Jackson, Weissmann said the 17-page plea document included the terms of Manafort's expected cooperation.

The guilty plea also heads off a second trial that would have taken place in Washington. In a Twitter thread, former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Renato Mariotti explains that Manafort has agreed to cooperate with the feds on any potential activity by anybody that's relevant to Mueller's investigation. Manafort's homes in New York City, in the Hamptons and in Virginia, as well as money from his bank accounts and life insurance policies may be seized by the government as part of the deal.

Manafort must also cooperate "fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly" with the Justice Department in any and all matters that the government finds his cooperation to be relevant. But his involvement in key episodes under scrutiny, and his leadership of the campaign at a time when prosecutors say Russian intelligence was working to sway the election, may make him an especially valuable witness.

In pleading guilty, Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, would admit he broke the law - a concession he refused to make throughout his Alexandria trial and since he was charged almost a year ago in Washington.

In addition to the witness tampering counts, Manafort had been formally charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, conspiring to launder money and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department about the nature of his work.

A White House spokeswoman quickly sought to distance Trump from the plea deal, saying Manafort's admission of guilt was "totally unrelated" to Trump. Trump had not said he would pardon Manafort, but nor had he ruled it out. "If the president or his team were dangling a pardon in conversations with Manafort, that would go to the issue of obstruction of justice as well", Schiff said. Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, was convicted in August of eight charges of tax evasion and bank fraud for concealing the money he had made from pro-Russian interests in Ukraine (including its former President Viktor Yanukovych). "Justice" took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a courageous man!"

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