Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Paul Manafort faces additional charges ahead of hearing

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort Jose Luis Magana Associated Press File Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort
Ellis Copeland | 14 September, 2018, 18:17

Onetime Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort indicated in a court filing on Friday that he had reached a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in which he will plead guilty to two criminal counts, allowing him to avoid a trial that had been set to begin next week.

However, the deal could involve Manafort's cooperation with Mr Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

The once-powerful Republican operative was found guilty last month of tax and bank fraud charges that could land him in prison for up to 80 years.

In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24 before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Jurors were deadlocked on the other 10 counts.

Prosecutors say that Manafort directed a large scale lobbying operation in the USA for Ukrainian interests without registering with the Justice Department as required by the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.

Manafort, 69, earned tens of millions of dollars lobbying for foreign governments and spent that money freely, including on a $15,000 ostrich coat, landscaping and real estate.

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In addition to the witness tampering counts, Manafort had been formally charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, conspiring to launder money and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department about the nature of his work. The president has tried to distance himself from his former campaign chair.

The case was brought by Mueller's team, which is probing potential crimes related to the 2016 election.

The former Trump aide is scheduled to appear at a hearing for the trial at 11:00 a.m. on Friday.

On Twitter on August 22, Trump wrote: "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal".

Another approach would be for him to plead guilty without cooperating in hopes of a presidential pardon. "Such respect for a fearless man!" Yanukovych was ousted from the country in 2014, and Manafort's consulting work in Ukraine dried up, according to evidence presented by the prosecutors in the Virginia trial.

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