PAUL Manafort, US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, will forfeit an estimated US$22 million worth of real estate in NY - including three Manhattan apartments, a Brooklyn town house and a home in the Hamptons - as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors announced last Friday. It also appears to vindicate the ability of special counsel Robert Mueller's team to secure convictions from a jury of average citizens despite months of partisan attacks, including from Trump, on the investigation's integrity. Mueller also indicted a suspected Russian intelligence agent, Konstantin Kilimnik - a business associate of Manafort - on charges that he helped Manafort tamper with potential witnesses in his case.
This is why Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump's attorney, spent much of the weekend rather dubiously assuring people that Manafort's cooperation agreement did not involve the 2016 campaign.
It has not been established that Trump knew about this meeting at the time, but Manafort might be able to testify to that as well. "It's very bad because he doesn't know what Manafort is saying and [Trump] can't count on Manafort saying things that the special counsel already knows".
Under the agreement, announced at a federal court hearing in Washington, Manafort was charged with two counts of conspiracy that carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. He left the campaign after press reports emerged detailing his financial relations with ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in large part because these ties were viewed as an obstacle to United States efforts to consolidate a right-wing pro-US regime in Kyiv. Manafort's decision to cooperate deals a political setback to Trump ahead of congressional elections on November 6.
All those closest to Trump during the campaign, save for his sons, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, are now co-operating with Mueller.
Manafort on Friday pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice brought by Mueller's team.
Schiff said that after watching ex-Trump confidant Michael Cohen's legal troubles ensue, people should consider that "trust and loyalty with Trump run in one direction - only you're loyal to him, he's not loyal to you".
Furthermore, there is a good deal of circumstantial evidence to suggest that Trump knew about the infamous Trump Tower meeting with representatives of the Russian government before it happened, which he has denied. No details of this proffer have yet leaked out, including whether it touches in any way on the charges of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
He's not necessarily being convicted for election interference, but he has agreed to provide full cooperation to the special counsel leading the investigation. Trump has repeatedly criticized the cost of the investigation, calling it "the World's most expensive Witch Hunt". It was one of the trademarks of a man who made millions by representing a motley crew of African big men and eastern European autocrats throughout his lobbying career. Manafort could shed light on this question, in addition to others that we may not yet have even heard of, since it's a fair bet that Mueller is investigating some matters that have yet to be publicly revealed.
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