Trump ex-campaign chief Manafort 'strikes plea deal'

14 September, 2018, 18:15 | Author: Myra Gill
  • BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI  AFP

Paul Manafort has chose to plead guilty to charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and avoid a second criminal trial, but it's unclear whether he will cooperate with Mueller's inquiry into Russian election interference.

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

The charges do not relate to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation. Jury selection was due to start on Monday. Trump's former fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted financial crimes and is helping federal prosecutors in NY.

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 plea would avoid a trial related to Manafort's alleged lobbying and consulting work on behalf of pro-Russian political parties in Ukraine.


Manafort had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts.

If Manafort were to cooperate with Mueller, that could provide investigators new evidence or leads to chase; a guilty plea, however, would prevent weeks worth of headlines about the trial in the month before congressional elections.

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.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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. "Such respect for a fearless man!"

Manafort has aggressively fought the charges against him and taken shots at his co-defendant, Rick Gates, who cut a deal with prosecutors earlier this year that included a cooperation agreement. Manafort faces up to a decade in prison after the Virginia jury verdict, and a conviction in Washington could have increased his prison time.

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