• Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of deal with special counsel Robert Mueller: reports

    By: Theresa Seiger, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    President Donald Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort is expected to plead guilty Friday to charges connected to work he did for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine, according to court filings obtained Friday morning by several news outlets.

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    Update 11:35 a.m. EDT: Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling, although the charges against him do not touch on allegations of interference.

    In court documents, Manafort admitted to witness tampering in coordination with Russian-Ukranian political consultant Konstantin Kilimnik.

    He also admitted that he lied to banks and other financial institutions for more than 10 years, from about 2006 to 2017, and that he failed to pay taxes on more than $12 million worth of items from 2008 to 2014.

    As part of his plea agreement, Manafort agreed to forfeit money and several properties. 

    Original report: Reports surfaced Thursday that Manafort was working toward a plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office ahead of a status hearing in the case set for Friday. Manafort faces charges including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

    Charging documents filed Friday indicated Manafort’s plan to plead guilty, according to The Associated Press.

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    “The charges in Friday’s filing were contained in a criminal information, a document that can only be filed with a defendant’s consent and typically signals a deal has been reached,” the AP reported.

    Details of the plea were not immediately available. It was not clear Friday morning whether Manafort agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigators as part of the special counsel’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and it’s possible ties to Trump and his campaign officials, The Washington Post reported.

    Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told Politico on Thursday that the president and his legal team saw no issue with reports that Manafort might cooperate with investigators.

    “From our perspective, we want him to do the right thing for himself,” Giuliani told the news site. “There’s no fear that Paul Manafort would cooperate against the president because there’s nothing to cooperate about and we long ago evaluated him as an honorable man.”

    The president has previously praised Manafort for his decision not to plead guilty amid a slew of charges stemming from Mueller’s investigation. Manafort is already facing jail time after a federal jury in Virginia found him guilty last month of tax and bank fraud charges also stemming from his work for Ukraine..

    “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family,” Trump wrote on Twitter after Manafort’s verdict was announced last month. “’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 brave man!”

    The guilty verdict came after 11 days of testimony from more than two dozen witnesses, including Manafort's longtime business partner and former campaign aide Rick Gates.

    Gates pleaded guilty in February to charges of making false statements and conspiring against the United States and agreed to cooperate with the special counsel’s office.

    Manafort’s trial was the first prompted by Mueller’s investigation, although the case didn’t touch on allegations of interference. It was during the special counsel’s investigation that Mueller’s legal team said it discovered that Manafort had hidden millions of dollars that he had received in exchange for work he did for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Check back for updates to this developing story.


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