Manafort pleads guilty, will cooperate with special counsel



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.

Andrew Weissmann, a federal prosecutor on Mueller's team, said that other charges may be dropped at sentencing or "or at the agreement of successful cooperation".

The scope of the cooperation was not immediately clear.

FILE - Paul Manafort, right, campaign manager to Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, and his assistant Rick Gates stand on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 17, 2016.

According to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, "This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign". "It is totally unrelated". Manafort pleaded guilty to those remaining 10 counts Friday as part of his plea agreement. Manafort fessed up to urging his business associates on the Ukraine deal to lie to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the nature of their work. "Now, he plays out the string, but I think he cuts it", Litman said. In exchange, the government will request that judges in Virginia and Washington, D.C., hand him a sentence no longer than 10 years in prison for the 20 counts on which he has either pleaded or been found guilty. In DC, his seven criminal counts are rewritten as two.

Mr Mueller's office is notoriously tight lipped, speaking only through its court actions - but those actions have said plenty recently.

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Manafort was to go on trial again in Washington next week.

With legions of Ivy League-educated prosecutors, the investigative resources of the FBI, the Treasury Department and virtually the entire federal bureaucracy at the disposal of prosecutors, an ordinary citizen has little chance of winning a court victory.

She has been a constant presence at her husband's court hearings and attended every day of testimony at Manafort's trial last month in Virginia.

In a statement Friday, the President's attorney Rudy Giuliani reiterated that confidence.

"Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign", he said. The initial version, which was quickly revised, included "Paul Manafort will tell the truth" as part of the quote. "He's accepted responsibility. This is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that", said attorney Kevin Downing. He was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia.

In their filing, prosecutors describe Manafort's scheme to take in more than $60 million from pro-Russian Ukrainians and launder that money to avoid paying taxes. He concealed the income through a network of foreign banks and shell companies. Manafort was accused of concealing from the IRS tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from his Ukrainian patrons and conspiring to launder that money through offshore accounts in Cyprus and elsewhere.

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One of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's longtime objectives in his investigation has always been to flip Paul Manafort into a cooperating witness.

Pleading guilty to these charges allowed Manafort to make a deal with prosecutors, and avoid adding jail time to the ten years he is already facing for the earlier convictions. In addition to the financial and lobbying charges against Manafort, the special counsel's team has said it's investigating allegations he colluded with Russian Federation while working for Trump.

Mueller had 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 Putin; and another aide who was indicted alongside Manafort but ultimately turned on him.

The cooperation deal requires Manafort to provide whatever information the government asks of him, though it does not specify what if anything prosecutors hope to receive about Trump. The allegations revealed last October reiterated a year of news reports that Manafort had secretly funneled income from Ukrainian lobbying contacts for years.

Paul Callan is a CNN legal analyst, a former NY homicide prosecutor and of counsel to the NY law firm of Edelman & Edelman PC, focusing on wrongful conviction and civil rights cases. If they were to defend Manafort's integrity as someone now willing to tell the truth, what would happen if Manafort were to implicate Trump in a crime? Patten worked with Manafort's Russian associate Kilimnik through 2017 and admitted in court to illegally using a straw purchaser to buy Trump inaugural tickets for an oligarch.

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