Paul Manafort will plead guilty, forfeit many assets in special counsel probe

14 September, 2018, 18:18 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI  AFP

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed with federal prosecutors to plead guilty, NBC News reports.

It's unclear whether Manafort will cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his ongoing probe into Russian meddling under terms of the plea agreement, Fox News reported.

He was facing a second trial Monday on charges related to Ukrainian political consulting work, including failing to register as a foreign agent.

Manafort is expected to appear in a US district courtroom in Washington, D.C., later Friday morning.

His DC trial was set to begin September 24. Jurors were deadlocked on the other 10 counts.

If he pleads guilty, he would avoid this trial. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.

The longtime 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.

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The superseding criminal information filed by Mueller's office says Manafort acted as an unregistered foreign agent and engaged in money laundering, tax fraud, lying to the Justice Department and witness tampering.

Manafort had the option of rolling all the charges he faced into one trial, but chose not to.

The deal is the culmination of a federal investigation that has kept Manafort's name in the headlines for more than a year, from summer 2017, when the FBI raided his residence in Virginia, through last October, when the charges first dropped, and into February, when his former business deputy and co-defendant Rick Gates reached his own plea deal with Mueller.

Another approach would be for him to plead guilty without cooperating in hopes of a presidential pardon.

Manafort, 69, was a key figure in Mr Trump's inner circle, but the president has since sought to distance himself from his former adviser.

Prosecutors "applied tremendous pressure on him and. he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal, ' " the president tweeted last month. Manafort faces up to a decade in prison after the Virginia jury verdict, and a conviction in Washington could have increased his prison time. "Such respect for a fearless man!"

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