Paul Manafort pleads guilty today, will cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller

Paul Manafort pleads guilty today, will cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller

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.

As part of the deal, Mr Manafort, 69, could be required to cooperate with Mueller's probe into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow. A jury found him guilty on eight counts of submitting false tax returns, failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts and bank fraud.

Manafort's plea, to charges tied to his Ukrainian political consulting work and unrelated to his time with the campaign, came just three days before he was to have stood trial for a second time.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissman said in court Friday that Manafort had struck a "cooperation agreement".

In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Paul Manafort seated (L) as his lawyer speaks in court.

Manafort served briefly as then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager in 2016. Places like Virginia and NY, both of which have Democratic attorneys general, could prosecute Manafort on state tax violations, for instance.

Schiff noted that Mueller would want to know what Manafort can tell him about the "background to the Trump Tower meeting, what took place at the Trump Tower meeting, and what took place after the Trump Tower meeting".

Manafort had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty. He also has entered his guilty plea before the runup to the mid-term elections, avoiding the damaging anti-Trump headlines that could have emerged from a new trial in Washington.

Given Manafort's close involvement with Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, the news could constitute a major blow to President Trump as he tries to contain the damage from Mueller's probe. "Mueller would not have given him a deal unless Manafort was able to help Mueller make a case against someone else or significantly strengthen an existing case".




Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the U.S. and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice due to attempts to tamper with witnesses, according to a court filing Friday.

As part of his deal, the government plans to seize four properties, including a almost US$2 million house in Arlington, Virginia, owned by one of Manafort's daughters.

In a later version of the statement, the last line about Manafort telling the truth was removed - perhaps an acknowledgement that at some point Mr Trump's side may have to call into question the former top campaign aide's veracity.

"He's accepted responsibility", Manafort's lawyer Kevin Downing, said.

The decision by Trump's onetime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to plead guilty last month in a federal investigation in Manhattan particularly angered the president, who denounced him as a "flipper". The reason: "the President did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth".

Questioning of potential jurors had started in the D.C. Circuit for Manafort's next trial on seven counts of conspiracy, witness tampering and lobbying violations in respect to working on behalf of a foreign government.

Prosecutors will drop the five remaining charges in DC federal court against Manafort, including money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, violating federal foreign lobbying law and lying to the Department of Justice.

Manafort began his work as a lobbyist and political consultant for Yanukovych in 2004 upon the advice of Deripaska.

Any light Manafort could shed on that meeting and other episodes could deepen the Mueller probe, legal experts said, increasing the pressure on Trump.

Back in August, after Cohen pleaded guilty, Trump praised Manafort for refusing to "break", suggesting that Manafort holding strong was very much in his interest.

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