Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Paul Manafort to plead guilty to two charges

Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel Trump ex-campaign chief Manafort 'strikes plea deal'
Glenn Montgomery | 15 September, 2018, 12:14

The scope of the cooperation was not immediately clear.

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

Mueller, who is primarily examining Russian election interference, has secured guilty pleas and cooperation from several people, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. "It is totally unrelated".

Manafort sat emotionless and spoke quietly in court Friday, muttering answers to the judge's questions regarding the deal.

"I do", he said repeatedly, waiving each right.

A juror in the Virginia case said she discounted testimony from Gates but found the documents that prosecutors introduced to be "overwhelming" in favor of conviction. In DC, his seven criminal counts are rewritten as two.

The trial would have been Manafort's second; he was convicted last month by a federal jury in Virginia on eight of 18 counts in a bank and tax fraud case related to money he earned in Ukraine.

By striking an 11th-hour deal with Mueller, Manafort could be putting that potential pardon in jeopardy. Trump's former personal lawyer has separately pleaded guilty in NY.

Manafort was convicted last month on eight counts of fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose banks accounts.

The agreement doesn't specify what if anything prosecutors hope to receive about Trump, but Manafort could be well-positioned to provide key insight for investigators working to establish whether the campaign coordinated with Russian Federation.

"Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign", he said.

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the president did nothing wrong.

It was the second version of the statement.

The long-time Washington power player's fight against the special counsel investigation is over not with a bang, but with a plea deal.

The White House says this doesn't have anything to do with the president whatsoever. It could be directly related to the Trump campaign or merely tangential.

At the time of Mr Gates' plea, Manafort issued a statement saying he "had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence".

The president tweeted "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to 'break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal. He concealed the income through a network of foreign banks and shell companies. Manafort is now only facing charges of conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

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.

The trial would have focused on allegations he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests. He also attended a June 2016 meeting at the Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer. And now it's too late, said Trump defender and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz. It's entirely up to Mueller and his team based on the value of the information they receive from Manafort.

Over a 40-year career, Manafort redefined and expanded Washington's influence industry domestically and internationally, parlaying successful campaigns into lobbying opportunities.

Prosecutors also gained the cooperation of his longtime associate Rick Gates, who had been indicted alongside him.

One of the potential witnesses against Manafort was Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty on August 31 to failing to register as a Ukrainian agent.

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