Paul Manafort Enters Guilty Plea In Second Trial

15 September, 2018, 00:35 | Author: Kim Reid
  • Paul Manafort looks on as Donald Trump appears at the Republican National Convention in July 2016. A superseding crim

Today Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to two criminal charges as part of a deal in which he will offer full cooperation with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

But given Manafort's pre-existing financial connections to Russia, his agreement to help prosecutors with further investigations will most certainly feed speculation and theories that there's more to these relationships than we're now publicly aware of, beyond what we've been told about Russian lobbyists offering stolen emails and data from Hillary Clinton's campaign to Trump's team.

Manafort entered his guilty plea to two felony counts during an hour-long hearing in federal court in Washington, D.C. The plea took place three days before he was to face trial on charges related to his lobbying work for Ukraine and alleged witness tampering.

Previously, Donald Trump's former campaign chair Paul Manafort was found guilty on 8 counts of bank and tax fraud. The president has signaled that he's sympathetic to Manafort's cause, and in comments to Politico, Giuliani said a plea without a cooperation agreement wouldn't foreclose the possibility of a pardon.

He led the campaign in mid-2016 when Mr Trump was selected as the Republican presidential nominee at the party convention.

The special counsel's office added a second potential cooperator against Manafort in late August when another lobbyist for the Ukrainians, Sam Patten, pleaded guilty to a foreign lobbying charge.

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Manafort had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty.

The president agreed to wait at least until the investigation concludes, Giuliani has said.

It's unclear how the possible deal might affect Manafort's pursuit of a pardon from President Donald Trump.

Manafort had other charges dropped but he still looks likely to go to prison, marking a steep fall from grace for a multi-millionaire who was often at Trump's side as the Republican candidate took US politics by storm in 2016.

In court on Friday, Manafort blew a kiss to his wife, Kathleen, before the hearing.

The result also ensures that the investigation will extend far beyond the November congressional elections despite entreaties from the president's lawyer that Mueller bring his probe to a close.

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Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the USA and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice due to attempts to tamper with witnesses, according to a court filing Friday. Any deal would not be final until Manafort admits guilt before the judge, who would need to approve the plea.

Friday's charging document replaces the prior indictment and calls for Manafort's forfeiture of real estate, money in four bank accounts and a life insurance policy. He also made sure to point out that the case was about conduct that goes back many years.

Despite Manafort's job leading the campaign, the White House sought to distance itself on Friday from him and his case.

"I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence", Manafort said in February.

The jury in that case deadlocked on 10 counts that on Friday were dropped as part of the plea deal. That Mueller accepted the plea deal means they believe he certainly must have helpful information about somebody's illegal behavior, but this should not be taken to mean that it's about Trump.

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