Manafort makes deal with Mueller to avoid another trial

Postado Setembro 14, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will plead guilty in federal court Friday as part of a plea agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Fox News has learned.

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

The charges include conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing, in Washington, DC, May 23, 2018.

The allegations do not involve his work with the Trump campaign.

It's unclear whether any agreement with prosecutors would require him to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.

It's unclear which charges Manafort is pleading guilty to, and whether his deal means that he will actually cooperate with prosecutors.

Paul Manafort (centre) is heckled as he walks into court.

It remains unclear if the deal will include Manafort's cooperation with Mueller's probe, dealing a blow to Trump ahead of congressional elections on November 6.

Manafort was convicted last month on eight counts of fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose banks accounts.

In the Washington case, prosecutors were set to lay out in great detail Manafort's political consulting and lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Russian Party of Regions.

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

Manafort, 69, earned tens of millions of dollars lobbying for foreign governments and spent that money freely, including on a $15,000 ostrich coat, landscaping and real estate.

Manafort's legal team blamed most of his problems on former business partner Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty this year and testified against Manafort in Virginia. Even after his indictment last October, though, prosecutors say he continued to commit crimes by tampering with witnesses.

Manafort has been in jail since June, when the judge in the D.C. case, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, threw him in pretrial detention for alleged witness tampering.

The new court filing indicates that prosecutors have taken a number of the earlier charges against Manafort, including a money laundering charge that could, on its own, bring a 20-year sentence, and folded them into two charges that would each yield five-year sentences.