Paul Manafort pleads guilty in deal with special prosecutors, NBC News reports

Pauline Gross
September 15, 2018

Prosecutors dropped five charges related to money laundering and failure to register as a foreign lobbyist. It was not immediately clear either from Weismann's comments, or court filings, what that cooperation would entail. Trump's former Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty on 8 charges of financial fraud, but as he's staring down the barrel of another trial, he's chose to take make a deal with Mueller.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissman said in court Friday that Manafort had struck a "cooperation agreement". "It is totally unrelated". On Friday morning, however, that refusal came to an abrupt end.

In court on Friday, Manafort stood stock still before the judge, answering her questions with single words in a low tone, or sat at the defence table. "It would not surprise me if he got time served for both cases", Allenbaugh said. A mistrial was declared on the remaining 10 charges after jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict. In DC, his seven criminal counts are rewritten as two. In that case, he was found guilty on eight counts of bank fraud, tax fraud and failure to report a foreign bank account. He also has entered his guilty plea before the runup to the mid-term elections, avoiding the damaging anti-Trump headlines that could have emerged from a new trial in Washington.

It's unclear which charges Manafort is pleading guilty to.

He's already been convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud crimes in the Virginia trial. His business partner Gates, who testified against him in the last trial, pleaded guilty to two criminal charges, including lying to investigators.

Because it's Friday, that means we're getting a massive news dump. Because of the Justice Department's official view that a sitting president can not be prosecuted, Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani have made a decision to fight the investigation as a political battle as well as a legal one. The president has previously signaled he's sympathetic to Manafort's cause, and his attorney Rudy Giuliani told Politico a plea without a cooperation agreement wouldn't foreclose the possibility of a pardon. The initial version, which was quickly revised, included "Paul Manafort will tell the truth" as part of the quote.

In return, he will cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team.

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"This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement. But last month, Trump expressed sympathy for him. Rumors first began earlier this week, when The Washington Post reported on Tuesday, Sept. 11, that sources close to the matter said Manafort was in talks about a possible plea deal.

Manafort admitted to hiring several companies to conduct the influence campaign, paying the firms over $11 million for the Ukraine work. Manafort must also forfeit $46 million in assets to the government. "In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, MANAFORT, with the assistance of Gates and Kilimnik, laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts".

In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24.

Trump had discussed pardoning Manafort, but that hadn't happened. In an April court filing, Mueller's prosecutors defended their pursuit of Manafort, even though he wasn't charged with crimes related to Russian election interference. And Manafort could conceivably fill Mueller in on that, if it happened.

Prosecutors hold all the cards: If they decide the information Manafort proffers is redundant or offers them little value, it's within their right to pull out of the agreement and continue prosecuting him.

He was also a close business associate of a man who U.S. intelligence believes has ties to Russian intelligence.

He will also be cooperating with the special counsel in its Russian Federation investigation, prosecutor Andrew Weissman told the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Friday. Today it comes courtesy of President Trump's former campaign manager. He had been jailed since June as a result of the witness tampering charges.

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