Manafort pleads guilty ahead of new trial, to cooperate with Mueller

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Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed to a plea deal Friday that includes working with the special counsel investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to two criminal charges on September 14 as part of a deal with federal prosecutors that concluded the second trial for the veteran political operative.

Manafort, 69, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Washington on Friday to counts of conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice, becoming the most prominent former Trump campaign official to admit to committing crimes.

A court filing Friday shows a plea hearing is set for later in the morning.

"He wanted to be able to make sure his family remained safe and live a good life".

Prosecutors say that Manafort directed a large scale lobbying operation in the U.S. for Ukrainian interests without registering with the Justice Department as required by the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA. The only thing the agreement appears to lack is a pledge by Manafort to conduct the members of the prosecution to team to his favorite tailors.

Manafort's second trial was for charges regarding his lobbying work in Ukraine.

As part of the plea deal, Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation, a striking change of heart for someone who earlier this year criticized his former associate Rick Gates for his guilty plea, saying, "I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence". In comments to Politico before the plea deal, Giuliani said a plea without a cooperation agreement wouldn't foreclose the possibility of a pardon.

There's been plenty of speculation that Manafort could be rescued by a presidential pardon.

She asked Manafort a series of questions - whether what the special counsel said was true and accurate, whether he did in fact conduct work on behalf of Ukraine, whether he conspired to tamper with witnesses, and whether he conspired to avoid USA tax laws.

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In pleading guilty, Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, would admit he broke the law - a concession he refused to make throughout his Alexandria trial and since he was charged almost a year ago in Washington.

Prosecutors say that Manafort directed a large-scale lobbying operation in the U.S. for Ukrainian interests without registering with the Justice Department as required by the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.

Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to court documents (pdf) filed in the District of Columbia.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released this statement on Manafort. The plea deal means he will not stand trial.

Mueller's investigators might also be looking to Manafort to learn whether the Trump team offered anything to the Russians in exchange for campaign help, said Seth Waxman, a former federal prosecutor.

Legal experts characterized Manafort's move as a significant win for Mueller-and a big setback for Trump.

US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman has agreed to cooperate in the special counsel investigation into possible campaign collusion with Russian Federation. "It is totally unrelated".

As part of his deal, the government plans to seize four properties, including a almost US$2 million house in Arlington, Virginia, owned by one of Manafort's daughters.

Moscow rejects the conclusions of US intelligence agencies that it interfered in the American democratic process and Trump denies campaign collusion.

Mueller has already secured cooperation from a former national security adviser who lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about discussing sanctions with a Russian ambassador, a campaign aide who broached the idea of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin; and another aide who was indicted alongside Manafort but ultimately turned on him. Those counts included laundering $18 million of the $75 million they made acting as unregistered foreign agents while lobbying on behalf of the Government of Ukraine between 2006-2016 and making false statements to the Justice Department.

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