Monday, 15 October, 2018

Paul Manafort Agrees to Plead Guilty in Mueller Probe

Washington DC.- Manafort faces charges including conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy against the United States Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel
Andrew Cummings | 15 September, 2018, 08:28

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will cooperate with the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, a dramatic turnaround that deals the USA president a setback.

Nothing linking President Trump personally to any criminal acts surfaced during the first Manafort trial in Virginia. A long time has passed since Manafort was charged earlier this year.

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

As part of this plea agreement (which you can read in full here), Manafort has agreed to waive his right to have his counsel present during his future interviews with Robert Mueller.

Prosecutors filed new charging documents against Manafort which contained a criminal information, a document that can only be filed with a defendant's consent and typically signals a deal has been reached. As a part of the deal, he pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy and one charge of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Manafort admitted to hiring several companies to conduct the influence campaign, paying the firms over $11 million for the Ukraine work.

The filing also offers new details about the various ways in which Manafort sought to surreptitiously lobby the U.S. government and influence American public opinion toward Ukraine.

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

According to Politico, the deal calls for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, to be served concurrently with a sentence in a separate Virginia case.

Manafort also agreed not to appeal any trial or pre-trial issues in his Eastern District of Virginia conviction, and "abandons any interest he has in all forfeitable property and consents to any disposition of the property by the government without further notice" - to the tune of $46 million, something any presidential pardon could not retrieve. The 38-page information document is extraordinary in its scope, and it lays out detailed counter-arguments to Trump's "witch hunt!" tirade, and the cost of the investigation is of no concern now that Manafort's wardrobe full of ostrich jackets could pay for a second Mueller investigation all on their own.

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Mugshot of Paul Manafort./Alexandria (Virginia) Sheriff's Office via Wikimedia Commons. Opening statements were scheduled for September 24.

Another conviction would cap a dramatic fall for the global power broker and confidant of Republican presidents dating back to Ronald Reagan.

It is impossible to know exactly what information Paul Manafort has to share with Mueller after agreeing to cooperate with his investigation in a plea deal.

Manafort is shown at the Republican convention in Cleveland behind Donald Trump on July 21, 2016.

As campaign chairman, Manafort personally offered private briefings about the campaign to the Russian industrialist Oleg Deripaska. But by the mid-2000s, there were signs that his consulting career had slumped, and at times his finances appeared to be shaky. Ukraine had said the report cost $12,000.

He had steadfastly refused to cooperate with Mueller even as the Virginia jury convicted him for hiding from US tax authorities $16 million he earned as a political consultant in Ukraine to fund an opulent lifestyle and then lying to banks to secure $20 million in loans.

Manafort had the choice to consolidate both cases into one but declined. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Jurors deadlocked on ten other counts.

It's unclear which charges Manafort is pleading guilty to.

One of the potential witnesses against Manafort was Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty on August 31 to failing to register as a Ukrainian agent. The reason: "the President did nothing wrong", said Giuliani.

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