Ex-Trump campaign chief to plead guilty before new trial

Ex-Trump campaign chief to plead guilty before new trial

Paul Manafort has made a decision to plead guilty to charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and avoid a second criminal trial, but it's unclear whether he will cooperate with Mueller's inquiry into Russian election interference.

Jurors in Virginia last month found Manafort guilty, in a separate case, on two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, giving special counsel Robert Mueller a victory in the first trial arising from his investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 USA election.

The charges in Friday's filing were contained a criminal information, a document which can only be filed with a defendant's consent, generally signaling an agreement has been reached.

A jury convicted Manafort last month on eight felony charges, including tax fraud and bank fraud.

However, the deal could involve Manafort's cooperation with Mr Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

At a rally in August, Trump said: "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort".

Prosecutors had filed new charging documents against Manafort. Manafort would be the fifth Trump aide to plead guilty in connection to the special counsel's probe.




The expected guilty plea comes after U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled Manafort's second trial would remain in the District of Columbia.

The charges in the information say that Manafort will have to forfeit property that was derived from or traceable to his offenses.

Another approach for Manafort would be to plead guilty without cooperating and perhaps later receive a presidential pardon.

Manafort's legal team blamed most of his problems on former business partner Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty this year and testified against Manafort in Virginia.

The case was brought by Mueller's team, which is probing potential crimes related to the 2016 election.

If Manafort had gone through with the second trial, he would have faced much of the same evidence that led to his conviction in Alexandria, including how he earned millions of dollars as a consultant to former President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine and his pro-Russia Party of Regions and was paid by wealthy Ukrainian businessmen through Cyprus accounts.

Writing on Twitter on August 22, Trump said, "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal".

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