Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Paul Manafort expected to plead guilty, avoid second trial

Paul Manafort looks on as Donald Trump appears at the Republican National Convention in July 2016. A superseding crim Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel
Kenny Thornton | 15 September, 2018, 06:19

He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice against the United States and for money laundering, tax fraud, bank reporting and FARA foreign agent disclosure. Manafort faces up to a decade in federal prison for the two conspiracy charges. He is expected to enter his guilty plea this morning in federal court.

Judge grants request to delay second trial amid reports of plea deal talks with Mueller; Fox News legal analyst Mercedes Colwin reacts on 'Outnumbered Overtime'.

In the past year, Mueller has secured pleas from a former national security adviser who lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about discussing sanctions with a Russian ambassador, a campaign aide who broached the idea of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin; and another aide who was indicted alongside Manafort but ultimately turned on him. "It is totally unrelated". That had him looking at spending the rest of his life in prison. To that end, his plea deal with Manafort could potentially lead to valuable insight into the inner workings of the Trump campaign. Manafort said "I am".

The federal government's statement of offense against Paul Manafort was released Friday, outlining the evidence underlying their case. In DC, his seven criminal counts are rewritten as two. But the court filing says Manafort admits to the actions.

Manafort, 69, earned tens of millions of dollars lobbying for foreign governments and spent that money freely, including on a $15,000 ostrich coat, landscaping and real estate. "If the president or his team were dangling a pardon in conversations with Manafort, that would go to the issue of obstruction of justice as well", Schiff said.

Because it's Friday, that means we're getting a massive news dump.

Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, echoed that idea, adding that "the president did nothing wrong".

It was the second version of the statement.

It was not immediately clear what information Manafort, a long-time Republican political consultant who ran the campaign as it took off in mid-2016, could offer prosecutors about Mr Trump. But Manafort has not been charged with anything related to the campaign. But last month, Trump expressed sympathy for him. After news of Manafort's conviction, Trump tweeted on August 22 that he felt "very badly" for Manafort and his family, adding, "U$3 nlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break"-make up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a fearless man!"

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Mueller's team could also pull out of the agreement at any time if they feel Manafort is not fully cooperating.

The charges include conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Prosecutors had accused him of hiding from U.S. tax authorities $US16 million ($22 million) he earned as a political consultant in Ukraine to fund an opulent lifestyle and then lying to banks to secure $US20 million ($29 million) in loans.

The deal requires Manafort to cooperate "fully and truthfully" with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

Mr Mueller's office is notoriously tight lipped, speaking only through its court actions - but those actions have said plenty recently. He was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia.

Prosecutors also gained the cooperation of his longtime associate Rick Gates, who had been indicted alongside him. Gates testified against Manafort in the Virginia trial, saying his former boss had directed him to commit the fraud.

On Friday, prosecutor Andrew Weissman said in court that Manafort had struck a "co-operation agreement" and would plead guilty to charges related to his Ukrainian political consulting work.

Trump has denied colluding with the Russians and the Russians have denied interfering. "It's not a criminal case".

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