Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleads guilty in Mueller probe

Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleads guilty in Mueller probe

If Manafort had gone through with the second trial, he would have faced much of the same evidence that led to his conviction in Alexandria, including how he earned millions of dollars as a consultant to former President Viktor Yanukovych of Ukraine and his pro-Russia Party of Regions and was paid by wealthy Ukrainian businessmen through Cyprus accounts. Such filings typically indicate that a deal has been reached. Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the judge that Manafort's plea deal is a "cooperation agreement".

The superseding criminal information filed by Mueller's office says Manafort acted as an unregistered foreign agent and engaged in money laundering, tax fraud, lying to the Justice Department and witness tampering.

Prosecutors allege that Manafort, conspiring with his former business partner Richard Gates and Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik, illegally lobbied on behalf of a foreign government by failing to register as a foreign agent.

In exchange for dropping the other charges, Manafort has reportedly agreed to cooperate with Mueller's ongoing investigation.

The guilty plea will allow Manafort to avert a second trial in D.C. stemming from Mueller's probe.

Given Manafort's close involvement with Russian Federation and the Trump campaign, the news could constitute a major blow to President Trump as he tries to contain the damage from Mueller's probe.

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Manafort, convicted by a Virginia jury last month on bank and tax fraud charges, was due to go on trial a second time on related charges in Washington.

The charges are related to Manafort's Ukrainian political consulting work.

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. 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 had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty. 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.

Manafort's Virginia trial generated considerable attention from the public and the media.

If Manafort decides to cooperate with Mueller's probe, that would deal a setback to Trump ahead of congressional elections on November 6.

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