Manafort signals he intends to plead guilty before new trial
14 September, 2018, 17:42 | Author: Wade Massey
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will plead guilty in federal court and forfeit many of his assets, according to a court filing Friday morning, signed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
In addition to the witness tampering counts, Manafort is 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.
Paul Manafort will plead guilty to avoid a second trial.
It's unclear whether any agreement with prosecutors would require him to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.
Several defendants have cooperated or pleaded guilty in connection with the special counsel probe, including Manafort's former right-hand man Rick Gates; former national security adviser Michael Flynn; Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Manafort; W. Samuel Patten, who admitted arranging for a Ukrainian businessman to illegally donate to Trump's inauguration; and former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, who was sentenced to 14 days in jail last week after pleading guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The details of the plea deal ― including whether it indicates that Manafort has to cooperate with Mueller's team ― are not yet available. The remaining five charges against Manafort will be dropped. The second count, for conspiracy to obstruct justice, relates to attempts to tamper with witnesses related to his foreign lobbying. Yanukovych was ousted from the country in 2014, and Manafort's consulting work in Ukraine dried up, according to evidence presented by the prosecutors in the Virginia trial.
Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner and the campaign's deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia.
Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now representing Trump in the Russian Federation probe, told Reuters on Friday that a guilty plea to avoid a second trial would not crush Manafort's chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon. Usually it helps you get a pardon down the road. He declined further comment until after the hearing.
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Before joining Trump's campaign, Manafort worked extensively for pro-Kremlin politicians and oligarchs in Ukraine. District Court for the District of Columbia had already signaled that argument was out-of-bounds.
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