Former Trump campaign chief Manafort to cooperate in Russian Federation probe

15 September, 2018, 12:16 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel

The breach clause of the plea deal is remarkably bare, and the government has retained the right to use anything Manafort says in his cooperation meetings against him if prosecutors decide to pull out of the agreement and try him.

He's also indicted former Manafort business associate Konstantin Kilimnik, now believed to be in Russia, for obstruction of justice and 25 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for interfering in the USA 2016 presidential election. Manafort admitted to leading a lobbying campaign for Ukraine for almost a decade and intentionally doing so without registering as a foreign agent.

Shortly after the story broke, the prosecutor confirmed that Paul Manafort is cooperating with the special counsel.

"Well, of course they should be", said the law professor, who later underscored that the only reason Mueller would be interested in flipping Manafort is if he believes he can get damaging information on Trump.

Friday's move gives Mueller another successful conviction while allowing Manafort to avoid facing another costly public trial.

Asked by reporters at the White House if he would consider a pardon if Manafort is convicted, Trump said last month: "I don't talk about that". "It is totally unrelated".

The plea agreement makes Manafort the latest member of Trump's inner circle to cooperate with the investigation that has loomed over his presidency.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in court Friday that Manafort must participate in interviews and debriefings, provide documents and testify in future cases.

"This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. The second count, for conspiracy to obstruct justice, concerns attempts to tamper with witnesses related to Manafort's foreign lobbying.

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His DC trial was set to begin September 24. Manafort was found guilty by a Virginia jury last month of multiple financial crimes. The crimes Manafort has been convicted of are not directly connected to Trump and his campaign in any way and majority preceded Manafort's work for Trump.

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.

Paul Manafort will plead guilty to avoid a second trial. He did not elaborate on the agreement.

In 2012, Manafort set out to help his client, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, by tarnishing the reputation of Yanukovych's political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, according to the document. In this scenario, Manafort, in vowing to cooperate with the prosecution, would be seeking to force Trump's hand on the issue of a pardon.

Had he made a decision to cooperate with prosecutors well before that trial began - he had months to do so - the plea agreement would probably have looked a lot different, and more balanced, than the one filed in court Friday in D.C.

Harry Sandick, a former federal prosecutor in NY, says it's uncommon for criminal information to include that level of detail.

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.

Manafort is expected to appear in court later Friday morning.

That posture drew plaudits from Trump, who praised his former campaign chairman for his unwillingness to cooperate with the special counsel.

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