Paul Manafort expected to plead guilty, avoid second trial

Leroy Wright
September 14, 2018

Paul Manafort agrees to plead guilty to avoid a second trial on corruption charges, following a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

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. Manafort and Mueller had also been in plea talks while the jury was in deliberations during his Virginia trial, but those negotiations had fallen through.

It's not clear whether Manafort will cooperate with Mueller's investigation as part of the deal.

In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24 before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. "It shows you've admitted your guilt", he said on Friday before a deal was announced.

Another conviction would cap a dramatic fall for the global power broker and confidant of Republican presidents dating back to Ronald Reagan.

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. "Nothing to do with Russian Federation collusion".

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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 generated more than 60 million dollars in income as a result of his Ukraine work".

According to the Special Counsel's office, the filing "alleges a conspiracy against the United States (money laundering, tax fraud, failing to file Foreign Bank Account Reports, violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and lying and misrepresenting to the Department of Justice) and a conspiracy to obstruct justice (witness tampering)". He had been jailed since June as a result of the witness tampering charges. Court papers filed in the case indicated that he could have faced between 15 and 19 and-a-half years in prison under federal guidelines. Jurors were deadlocked on the other 10 counts.

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

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing, in Washington, DC, May 23, 2018. Yanukovych was ousted from the country in 2014, and Manafort's consulting work in Ukraine dried up, according to evidence presented by the prosecutors in the Virginia trial.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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