Paul Manafort to Plead Guilty to 2 Felonies & Cooperate with Prosecutors

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse for a hearing

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse for a hearing

Yuri Gripas/REUTERS/NewscomPaul Manafort, facing a second criminal trial about his secret financial ties to a former Russia-friendly Ukrainian president, has agreed to plead guilty to two charges and has agreed to cooperate with FBI Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the judge Manafort's plea agreement is a "cooperation agreement", and other charges will be dropped at sentencing at "or at the agreement of successful cooperation". Trump's former Campaign Chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty on 8 charges of financial fraud, but as he's staring down the barrel of another trial, he's decided to take make a deal with Mueller.

Today's court filings describe Manafort lobbying for Ukraine's former pro-Russian government as covertly as possible, reaping more than $60 million in the process and laundering the money, then his efforts earlier this year to get potential witnesses from his group to falsely say that they were not lobbying in the United States. At the end of the hour-long hearing, Manafort responded to a statement of offense with "I plead guilty".

In the new filing, prosecutors dropped the bulk of the charges against Manafort, filing new paperwork that includes just two counts that resemble in many ways the original allegations made in an indictment previous year.

"There's nothing he can testify to that would probably lend weight to impeachment because he didn't have close contact with President Trump while he was president", said Dershowitz.

National security reporter and legal analyst Marcy Wheeler said she believes that Mueller made this deal "pardon proof in a couple ways that are going to become obvious in the near future".

As part of his deal, the government plans to seize four properties, including a almost $2 million house in Arlington, Virginia, owned by one of Manafort's daughters. The guilty plea also underscores the seriousness of this investigation.

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According to Politico, the deal calls for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, to be served concurrently with a sentence in a separate Virginia case. The latter charge is just a fancy way of saying he got caught moving money around and doing shady stuff for oligarchs-you know, normal Washington D.C. stuff (the worst thing to ever happen to Manafort was winning an election, if we had President Hillary Clinton right now, Manafort would still be peddling the influence of foreign nations in our nation's capital).

Kevin M. Downing, an attorney for Manafort, also said this summer that there was "no chance" his client would flip and cooperate with prosecutors.

"This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said of the Manafort news on Friday. "It shows you've admitted your guilt", he said before the deal was announced.

It's unclear how the possible deal might affect Manafort's pursuit of a pardon from Trump.

In addition to being the first conviction won by Mueller, Manafort is the fifth person to plead guilty to charges stemming from Mueller's investigation.

Behind bars in the Alexandria, Va., detention center, Manafort's dark hair has sprouted patches of gray. The jury was deadlocked on the remaining 10 counts, which ended in mistrial.

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