Trump ex-campaign chief Manafort 'strikes plea deal'

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI  AFP

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI AFP

In fact, prosecutors said, Manafort had already begun giving information to the investigators, who are led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The document accuses Manafort of using offshore accounts to hide income, cheating the United States out of more than $15 million in taxes.

The president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was asked by Reid whether he had been told by Manafort's attorneys that the cooperation deal will not require him to share anything related to the president.

After news broke of Manafort's plea Friday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, "This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign". 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. "It is totally unrelated".

Randall Eliason, a former federal prosecutor and a law professor at George Washington University, said the agreement, which caps at 10 years a sentence which could have been much longer, was a "pretty good deal" that suggested the Mueller team valued Manafort's cooperation.

Mueller, who is primarily examining Russian election interference, has secured guilty pleas and cooperation from several people, including former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Manafort refused for months to assist Mueller's inquiry before admitting guilt to criminal charges that he concealed money from tax authorities.

According to the court documents cited by U.S. media, Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the USA and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. The White House says this doesn't have anything to do with the president whatsoever. If they were to defend Manafort's integrity as someone now willing to tell the truth, what would happen if Manafort were to implicate Trump in a crime?

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

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He said: "They have hired a wedding planner and have been looking at venues". According to a source at The Cut , Hailey sees "no reason to wait".

The longtime lobbyist resigned from his position as campaign chairman in August 2016 amid increasing scrutiny of his work on behalf of a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine.

"It's not going to hurt him if he pleads guilty".

That came on the very day that Mr Trump's long-time lawyer Michael Cohen did "break" in a NY courtroom, and accused the president of breaking the law into the bargain. Previously, he was facing those charges, plus five others, including obstruction of justice, providing false statements, conspiracy to launder money, and acting as an unregistered foreign agent. Because of the Justice Department's official view that a sitting president can not be prosecuted, Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani have made a decision to fight the investigation as a political battle as well as a legal one. Trump had not said he would pardon Manafort, but nor had he ruled it out.

"For months, as part of their joint defense agreement, they would have been strategizing together", Schiff noted, adding that Manafort might be able to share information on "what conversations" Trump might have had with Manafort "after the charges were brought against him".

Manafort has not yet been sentenced in the Virginia case. "Reporting shows that Trump called Manafort 20 times a day and, of course, Manafort knows the whole story of the Trump Tower meeting and events before and after".

The charges in the information say that Manafort will have to forfeit property that was derived from or traceable to his offenses.

At the time of Gates' plea, Manafort issued a statement saying he "had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence".

A presidential pardon now is "off the table; it's too little, too late", Dershowitz explained.

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