Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Winners and losers from the Manafort plea deal

Winners and losers from the Manafort plea deal

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors, which could spell serious trouble for the president, former prosecutors agree.

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.

"The expectations around Manafort's cooperation are likely at a level beyond anyone else to date who has agreed to cooperate", said Jacob Frenkel, a Washington lawyer not involved in the case. Although such work is required to be registered with United States authorities under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Manafort neglected to do so for years.

Manafort served briefly as then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign manager in 2016.

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.

Even though the Manafort case was tangential to the central thrust of Mr Mueller's inquiry - relating to his work as a lobbyist, and not possible ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign - this still marks a significant development in the special counsel's investigation.

A jury in Eastern Virginia found the former political consulting titan guilty on eight counts related to tax evasion and loan fraud last month but remained hung on 10 other counts. "It is totally unrelated", said Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

As associates of President Donald Trump folded one-by-one over the a year ago under the pressure of federal investigators, there was always Paul Manafort.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in court Friday that Manafort must participate in interviews and debriefings, provide documents and testify in future cases.

The president's personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has argued, however, that a plea agreement between Manafort and the special counsel does not affect Trump because his former campaign chairman has nothing compromising to say about the president.

Two years after being forced from his position as chair of Donald Trump's presidential campaign, 10 months removed from his indictment on multiple counts of unregistered foreign lobbying and financial fraud, and just days before his second trial was set to begin, Paul Manafort has thrown in the towel.

Others on social media are questioning if perhaps Trump's attorneys had the original statement ready, not expecting the Manafort plea deal to involve cooperation, and then modified it after realizing with Manafort flipping they may need to again resort to the defense strategy of calling him a liar, like they did with Cohen in the past.

Manafort, Trump's top political operative from May to August 2016, has always been considered one of the bigger fish for Muller's office.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann walked the court through Manafort's efforts over a decade to influence power brokers in Washington without acknowledging that he was being paid tens of millions of dollars from pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine, a disclosure required by law.

The deal allows Manafort to avoid a second trial that had been scheduled to start next week in Washington. Depending on the sentencing decisions of the judges in the two cases, Manafort, 69, could spend up to 31 years in prison. He did not elaborate on the agreement.

Trump had discussed pardoning Manafort, but that hadn't happened.

Paul Manafort's plea agreement is a monstrously one-sided deal in favor of the government.

Prosecutors hold all the cards: If they decide the information Manafort proffers is redundant or offers them little value, it's within their right to pull out of the agreement and continue prosecuting him.

He also emphasized that Manafort is not a credible witness, having just admitted to obstruction of justice and lying.

Wearing a purple tie beneath his dark suit, Manafort looked glum as the hearing unfolded, standing next to his attorney, Richard Westling, with a court security officer standing immediately behind him. It is one of the few images known to exist of Kilimnik, who has been accused by the Mueller investigation of witness tampering.

"Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign".

Investigators are reportedly reviewing Manafort's notes of the meeting which "contained the words "donations, ' and 'RNC" in close proximity".

Or Mueller may be directly interested in what Manafort, who led the Trump campaign from April through August 2016, can describe about the campaign's interactions with Russians.

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