Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Paul Manafort expected to plead guilty, avoid second trial

Paul Manafort expected to plead guilty, avoid second trial

Paul Manafort will plead guilty to avoid a second trial.

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

The once-powerful Republican operative was found guilty last month of tax and bank fraud charges that could land him in prison for up to 80 years.

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.

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

President Trump has the power to grant Manafort a pardon for the eight counts he was convicted of in Alexandria as well as any charges he could be convicted of in the second trial-and for that matter, any convictions that may result if he were retried on the ten mistrial charges.

Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner and the campaign's deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia.

Both cases brought against Manafort by the special counsel stem from his work in Ukraine.

The two revised charges are conspiracy to defraud the United States related to lying to investigators, money laundering and other financial crimes, and conspiracy to obstruct justice for attempting to influence witnesses in his case.

Manafort had the choice to consolidate both cases into one but declined. "In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, MANAFORT, with the assistance of Gates and Kilimnik, laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts". There were 18 counts altogether, but Ellis declared a mistrial on those charges when jurors couldn't reach an agreement on them-and that hung jury came about because of a lone juror. Manafort's attorneys had argued that the trial should be moved to Roanoke, Virginia, because the intensity of publicity in Washington made it impossible for him to receive a fair trial.

It's unclear how a guilty plea might alter his ultimate sentence, and some lawyers have questioned whether he is focused on winning a reprieve elsewhere.

President Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out. Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation, which has cast a shadow over Trump's presidency.

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