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Manafort to cooperate with Mueller investigation in plea deal

Manafort to cooperate with Mueller investigation in plea deal

The long-time Washington power player's fight against the special counsel investigation is over not with a bang, but with a plea deal.

"What we will find out in the days and weeks ahead is just how much Manafort knows and how much he can tell us about what Trump knew regarding Russian interference on his behalf", Rubin wrote.

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

Manafort was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia.

Manafort has not yet been sentenced in the Virginia case. The special counsel's office issued the following statement regarding the plea: "Court has scheduled an arraignment and plea agreement hearing today for US v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., 69, of Alexandria, Va., at 11 a.m".

The 69-year-old becomes the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released this statement on Manafort. "It is totally unrelated".

The charges accuse him of a conspiracy involving money laundering, tax fraud, failure to report foreign bank accounts, violating rules requiring registration of foreign agents, lying and witness tampering while performing consulting work with a Ukrainian political party.

Manafort made a similar unsuccessful request in his bank fraud and tax evasion trial in northern Virginia.

This, in turn, may endear him to President Trump, who has already called Manafort a "good man" who has been unfairly targeted by the Justice Department. Five other charges were dropped in the new court filing.

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Prosecutors say that Manafort directed a large-scale lobbying operation in the USA for Ukrainian interests without registering with the Justice Department as required by the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. He did not elaborate on the agreement. In return, Manafort will not face a second trial in which he could receive more severe punishment.

Manafort, in a trial set to begin September 24 in federal court in Washington, is facing seven counts of foreign lobbying violations and witness tampering. Kilimnik has not appeared in court, though Manafort's plea Friday admits that he committed his crimes in conspiracy with both Gates and Kilimnik.

The plea deal would allow Manafort to avoid a second trial that had been scheduled to start next week in Washington.

The charges were filed in a superseding criminal information - a formal criminal charge - which lays out the facts of the offense and is often the precursor to the announcement of a deal.

It's true that nothing public in Mueller's investigation so far has touched Trump on the central questions of collusion with Russian Federation or obstruction of justice.

Paul Manafort (centre) is heckled as he walks into court.

Scott Dworkin, a Democratic strategist and MSNBC contributor, believes that Manafort's cooperation will spell the end of Trump's time in office.

The details of Manafort's plea were not immediately clear, including whether he would be providing any information to special counsel Robert Mueller as part of any deal.

The move comes as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation increasingly pressures the White House. "It shows you've admitted your guilt", he said on Friday before a deal was announced.


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