Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleads guilty in Mueller probe
14 September, 2018, 19:12 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
The special counsel's office issued the following statement regarding the plea: "Court has scheduled an arraignment and plea agreement hearing today for US v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., 69, of Alexandria, Va., at 11 a.m".
Prosecutors allege that Manafort, conspiring with his former business partner Richard Gates and Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik, illegally lobbied on behalf of a foreign government by failing to register as a foreign agent.
One of the potential witnesses against Manafort was Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty on August 31 to failing to register as a Ukrainian agent. Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation, which has cast a shadow over Trump's presidency.
According to the court filing, the charge of conspiracy against the United States includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, and acting as an unregistered lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.
He has yet to be sentenced in Virginia, where legal experts say he faces 8 to 10 years in prison under federal guidelines on the eight of 18 counts on which he was convicted.
This comes ten days before Manafort's trial was set to begin. At that trial, Gates, who is cooperating in Mueller's probe, testified against him in dramatic form.
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It is not clear whether any agreement with prosecutors would require him to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation.
The charges include conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The jury was deadlocked on the remaining 10 counts, which ended in mistrial. The president has signaled that he's sympathetic to Manafort's cause, and in comments to Politico, his attorney-spokesman Rudy Giuliani said a plea without a cooperation agreement wouldn't foreclose the possibility of a pardon.
The charges do not relate to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and jurors are expected to only hear limited references to Manafort's role in the campaign.
Note: This article has been updated with news that Manafort's plea deal is a cooperation agreement.
For months, Manafort had refused to turn on his former boss, unlike other Trump administration figures.
Mueller is also under investigation on whether Trump obstructed justice, and is now in talks with the president's lawyers to secure a voluntary interview with him. The crimes he is pleading guilty to are unrelated to his work on the campaign.
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