Ex Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort Reaches Plea Deal With Robert Mueller

15 September, 2018, 08:30 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel

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

Last month, Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight of eighteen counts of fraud by a jury in the Eastern District of Virginia.

"This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said of the Manafort news on Friday. "It is totally unrelated".

The conspiracy to obstruct justice charge is based on allegations of alleged witness tampering after Manafort was already initially charged with several crimes related to his work for the Ukrainian government. Jury selection had been set to begin on September 17 in his second trial.

Under the circumstances, Paul Manafort's decision to avoid financial ruin and reduce his possible prison exposure by pleading guilty was entirely understandable.

The long-time lobbyist resigned from his position as campaign chairman in August 2016 amid increasing scrutiny of his work on behalf of a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine.

"Usually, there would be some protection that if the government believes that the agreement was breached, that they can't use the statements that were made to the government during the period of cooperation with that person", the former prosecutor who spoke to Roll Call said. He did not elaborate on the agreement. Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in an investigation referred to the Southern District of NY by Mueller's office. The President has been quite publicly supportive of Manafort since criminal charges were first filed against his former campaign chairman.

Had he chose 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.

In brief responses, Manafort, 69, said he had sufficient time to consider his plea and that he was of sound mind.


Earlier this year, Manafort derided Gates, his former business partner, for striking a deal with prosecutors that provided him leniency in exchange for testimony against his former partner.

The charges in Friday's filing were contained in a criminal information, a document that can only be filed with a defendant's consent and typically signals a deal has been reached.

"Manafort cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes", the filing states, adding that in order to commit the crimes, he relied on help from both his longtime deputy Rick Gates and the Russian Konstantin Kilimnik.

Although the precise nature of Manafort's cooperation remains unclear, reaction to the news on Friday was swift.

President Trump's legal team signaled earlier this week that they weren't anxious about the prospect of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort negotiating a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller - in fact, some lawyers close to the case suggested a plea deal could be beneficial for both Manafort and Trump.

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.

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.

The deal requires him to cooperate "fully and truthfully" with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation. Any deal would not be final until Manafort admits guilt before the judge, who would need to approve the plea. The network cited three unidentified sources with knowledge of the deal.

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