Manafort Agrees to Plead Guilty to Avoid New Washington Trial

14 September, 2018, 18:43 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to plead guilty to two criminal counts as part of a deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to federal court documents released on Friday.

His decision to plead guilty, indicated in a court filing on Friday, came just days before jury selection was set to begin September 17 in Washington, where Mueller accused him of conspiring to launder money, acting as an unregistered foreign agent of Ukraine and obstructing justice.

A superseding criminal information was filed against Manafort in Washington ahead of a scheduled court appearance later Friday morning.

It's unclear if Manafort will become or has become a cooperating witness, but some reports say the plea agreement appears to suggest he will.

President Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.

Manafort's conviction in Alexandria, Virginia, last month was at a trial arising from Mueller's investigation.

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.

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One of the potential witnesses against Manafort was Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty on August 31 to failing to register as a Ukrainian agent. A mistrial was declared on the remaining 10 charges after jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict.

Manafort had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty.

It was not immediately clear whether the deal would require Manafort, 69, to cooperate with Mueller's probe into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow. "In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, MANAFORT, with the assistance of Gates and Kilimnik, laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts".

Manafort made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians before taking an unpaid position with Trump's campaign for five months.

However, none of the charges relate to collusion with Russian Federation in the election.

At the time of Gates' plea, Manafort issued a statement saying he "had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence".

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