Manafort to cooperate with Robert Mueller's probe of Russian election meddling

Manafort to cooperate with Robert Mueller's probe of Russian election meddling

Considered a major development regarding President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, his lawyers on Friday confirmed that prior to pleading guilty to charges at a court hearing Friday he has entered a cooperating agreement with the Department of Justice.

Manafort's case marked the first indictment in Mueller's investigation.

I think it's pretty evident, then, that Trump is not going to be very pleased with Manafort suddenly changing his tune and deciding to work with Mueller. When it came time to face the judge, he responded to her questions in a low voice with brief answers. Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice for trying to influence the testimony of two witnesses.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissman said in court Friday that Manafort had struck a "cooperation agreement".

Continued Downing: "He wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life. This is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that".

But he could be a key witness for the government.

Schiff noted that Mueller would want to know what Manafort can tell him about the "background to the Trump Tower meeting, what took place at the Trump Tower meeting, and what took place after the Trump Tower meeting".

Manafort has had close ties to Russia in the past, particularly Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska as well as many pro-Russian Ukrainian officials.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement after the deal was announced.

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He led the campaign in mid-2016 when Mr Trump was selected as the Republican presidential nominee at the party convention. "It is totally unrelated".

Giuliani has told NPR that Trump discussed a possible pardon earlier this summer, but he said the president agreed not to move forward with the idea. The response from Trump and the White House has been (and continues to be) that none of these charges show any sort of collusion between Trump and Russian Federation, and that's absolutely true.

In court on Friday, Manafort blew a kiss to his wife, Kathleen, before the hearing.

"Manafort cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes", the filing states, adding that in order to commit the crimes, he relied on help from both his longtime deputy Rick Gates and the Russian Konstantin Kilimnik. The plea deal means he will not stand trial.

Manafort's defenders have long insisted that he would not cooperate with Mueller, and didn't know any incriminating information against the president.

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

During Manafort's Virginia trial, the president had spoken spoke warmly of him. The former includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to file Foreign Bank Accounts, and the latter includes the charge of witness tampering. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts.

The investigation has exposed the inner workings of the Russian influence campaign against American elections, a detailed and elaborate scheme by Manafort and Gates to hide money made through foreign lobbying work from the US government and multiple instances of people later lying to investigators about their behavior.

Prosecutors say that Manafort directed a large scale lobbying operation in the US for Ukrainian interests without registering with the Justice Department as required by the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act. Manafort was accused of laundering more than $18 million through foreign banks. But Manafort, whom we can safely assume is one of "the young and attractive lives (and others)" the president once lamented were being destroyed by the investigation, can nearly certainly expect to soon be the subject of a presidential tweetstorm that in no way demeans the highest office in the land.

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