Paul Manafort plans to plead guilty to second set of charges

Hugh Fox
September 14, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is expected to plead guilty to federal charges as part of a deal with the special counsel's office.

The longtime political strategist was scheduled to stand trial in Washington on charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, making false statements and obstruction of justice.

Seven charges in a previous indictment against Mr Manafort were reduced to just two in documents submitted to the court Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, signaling a deal had been agreed with Mr Manafort's lawyers to accept guilt.

It's the type of filing typically seen before a plea deal.

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He has yet to be sentenced in Virginia, where legal experts say he faces 8 to 10 years in prison under federal guidelines on the eight of 18 counts on which he was convicted.

It is not clear whether any agreement with prosecutors would require him to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation.

At a rally in August, Trump said: "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort".

Reacting to Manafort's August conviction, President Trump described Manafort as a "good man", and once again labeled the Mueller probe as a "witch hunt". Five other charges were dropped in the new court filing.

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Manafort is due in federal court for what the Justice Department called "an arraignment and plea agreement hearing" on Friday morning, following the release of new charging documents against him. He volunteered that year to work for free on the Trump campaign, shepherding the candidate through the Republican National Convention before being pushed aside as questions about his influence-peddling emerged.

"It's not going to hurt him if he pleads guilty. 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".

Writing on Twitter on August 22, Mr. Trump said, "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a fearless man!"

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. "Such respect for a courageous man!"

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