Paul Manafort agrees to plead guilty to avoid a second criminal trial

Paul Manafort agrees to plead guilty to avoid a second criminal trial

Manafort is due in federal court for what the Justice Department called "an arraignment and plea agreement hearing" on Friday morning, following the release of new charging documents against him.

Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, said that Manafort's cooperation would be valuable to special counsel Robert Mueller for "only a few other subjects" under investigation, possibly including members of Trump's family.

In his guilty plea (pdf), Manafort admitted to knowingly violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act by failing to register as an agent of a foreign power while conducting lobbying work for Ukraine in the United States.

Details of the deal are likely to emerge in a plea agreement hearing in federal court.

His trial, brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, was scheduled to begin with jury selection in Washington, D.C., Monday.

Manafort had proffered information to the government already, Weissmann said in a federal court in a Washington, DC.

More news: Spurs duo Lloris, Alli to miss Liverpool, Inter clashes

A juror in the Virginia case said she discounted testimony from Gates but found the documents that prosecutors introduced to be "overwhelming" in favor of conviction. He participated in a 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians where he expected to receive derogatory information about Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Manafort had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty.

The agreement doesn't specify what if anything prosecutors hope to receive about Trump, but Manafort could be well-positioned to provide key insight for investigators working to establish whether the campaign coordinated with Russian Federation. He also has entered his guilty plea before the runup to the mid-term elections, avoiding the damaging anti-Trump headlines that could have emerged from a new trial in Washington.

The plea, and cooperation, were an abrupt change for Manafort, who was convicted last month in the Virginia federal court on bank and tax fraud charges. But as Newt Gingrich observed on August 19, 2016, on Fox News: "Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really help get this campaign to where it is right now".

Manafort's deal could also prompt other subjects of Mueller's investigation to cooperate, causing "the proverbial snowball to roll down the hill", Waxman said. And while he was working on the Trump campaign, emails show Manafort discussed providing private briefings for a wealthy Russian businessman close to Vladimir Putin.

Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, told reporters outside the courthouse that it was "a tough day for Mr. Manafort". Vanity Fair reports that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is talking to investigators: "he has bristled at the feeling that he has taken the fall for a man who has refused to take any responsibility or face any effect himself". A jury there convicted him on eight counts of filing false tax returns, failing to report foreign bank accounts, and bank fraud. The president has signaled that he's sympathetic to Manafort's cause, and in comments to Politico, his attorney-spokesman Rudy Giuliani said a plea without a cooperation agreement wouldn't foreclose the possibility of a pardon. He is now accused of conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that the crimes he's guilty of have nothing to do with Trump, but according to the indictment, Manafort did crimes throughout the campaign and the year 2017. "'Justice" took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a "deal.' Such respect for a fearless man!"

Related Articles