Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will cooperate with prosecutors from special counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation after pleading guilty to two charges to avoid a second criminal trial.
The charges include conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
As part of a plea deal, the rest of the charges in the Washington DC case, as well as the deadlocked charges from a previous case in Virginia will be dropped at the time of sentencing ot upon “completion of cooperation” prosecutors have said.
The allegations do not involve his work with the Trump campaign. 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 campaign and Russia.
Manafort was facing a second trial set to begin on Monday on charges related to Ukrainian political consulting work, including failing to register as a foreign agent.
It’s unclear how the possible deal might affect Manafort’s pursuit of a pardon from President Donald Trump. The president has signalled 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.
Manafort is already facing eight to 10 years in prison after being convicted in Virginia on eight counts of bank and tax fraud and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts relating to $16m (£12m) laundered through shell companies overseas.
If there is no deal, Manafort will appear in court next week to face seven charges encompassing conspiracy, obstruction of justice, money laundering, false statements and violations of a lobbying disclosure law.
As the former campaign chairman is expected in court later today, you can follow live updates below.
You can read more detail about the plea deal here:
Mr Warner added: The guilty plea also underscores the seriousness of this investigation. The Special Counsel must be permitted to follow the facts wherever and however high they might lead.”
He said “no one is above the law” in the US, perhaps pointing towards the president as well, who Mr Mueller has been debating whether to subpoena.
“Any attempt by the President to pardon Mr Manafort or otherwise interfere in this investigation would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress,” Mr Warner said.
The White House has not said whether the president is considering a pardon, which is within his rights for Mr Manafort’s federal crimes.
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee Mark Warner also issued a statement in response to Mr Manafort’s guilty plea and cooperation agreement: “Today’s admission of criminal guilt by Paul Manafort clearly demonstrates that the President’s 2016 campaign manager conducted illegal activity in conspiracy with Russian-backed entities and was beholden to Kremlin-linked officials.”
The charges brought against Mr Manafort only came about because of the FBI investigation into the 2016 US election campaign team and the alleged collusion.
Mr Trump himself has not issued a statement or tweeted about the matter as yet.
He initially said in a statement “the president did notthing and Paul Manafort will tell the truth” but revised it to say, simply, “the president did nothing wrong”.
Mr Manafort’s indictments were a result of the investigation, but the charges were not directly related to the campaign. Legal experts have said Mr Mueller was hoping the financial fraud charges would push the former campaign chairman into cooperating with the rest of the probe.
This could be crucial – if true:
A number of people are flagging an old clip of Newt Gingrich talking about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.
The charges against Manafort are related to his Ukrainian consulting work — not Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which is the central issue in the special counsel’s investigation.
Friday’s move gives Mr Mueller another successful conviction while allowing Manafort to avoid facing another costly public trial.
The judge in the case has told the court that Manafort’s plea agreement includes a willingness to be questioned, to give up documents and to do without the presence of his lawyer. The deal also means he is giving up the right to appeal his conviction last month in Virginia.
White House Press secretary Sarah Sanders has released a brief statement on Manafort’s deal:
“This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated.”
BREAKING: Trump’s campaign Manager Paul Manafort has agreed to cooperate with proeseutors as part of deal, court told
Mr Vogel has a further insight:
Via Kenneth Vogel of the New Times, today’s documents represent bad news for the Podesta Group, the lobbying firm set up in 1988 by brothers John Podesta and Tony Podesta. John Podesta, who left the firm in 1993, went on to become Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, while his brother quit last year. Mr Vogel tweeted: “Emails suggest that the lobbying firm knew all along that their work was for the pro-Russian government of Ukraine, & not a non-profit group, per new info from MUELLER, which calls into question Podesta’s basis for not registering under FARA.”
Via @KyleGriffin and @Politico, the plea deal calls for a 10-year cap on how long Manafort will be sent to prison, and for Manafort to serve time from his separate Virginia and Washington cases concurrently.
Details of the second plea, to witness tampering, say: From in or about and between February 23, 2018 and April 2018, both dates being approximate and inclusive, within the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendant PAUL J.
MANAFORT, JR., together with others, including Konstantin Kilimnik, knowingly and
intentionally conspired to corruptly persuade another person, to wit: Persons D1 and D2, with intent to influence, delay and prevent the testimony of any person in an official proceeding, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(b)(1).
Details relating to first guilty plea, state: From in or about and between 2006 and 2017, both dates being approximate and inclusive, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendant PAUL J. MANAFORT, JR., together with others, including Gates and Kilimnik, knowingly and intentionally conspired to defraud the
United States by impeding, impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful governmental functions of a government agency, namely the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury, and to commit offenses against the United States, to wit, (a) money laundering (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956); (b) tax fraud (in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1)); (c) failing to file Foreign Bank Account Reports (in violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 5312 and 5322(b)); (d) violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (in violation of 22 U.S.C. §§ 612, 618(a)(1), and 618(a)(2));
33 and (e) lying and misrepresenting to the Department of Justice (in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001(a) and 22 U.S.C. §§ 612 and 618(a)(2))
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