15 September, 2018
Considered a major development regarding President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort, his lawyers on Friday confirmed that prior to pleading guilty to charges at a court hearing Friday he has entered a cooperating agreement with the Department of Justice. In Washington, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that based on the guidelines, which are determined based on factors such as Manafort's involvement and the nature of the crimes, he faces a range of 210 to 262 months and a $400,000 fine.
On Thursday, CBS News reported that Manafort had reached the deal with federal prosecutors to avoid his upcoming trial on charges related to his foreign lobbying work. The 69-year-old political consultant was convicted last month in Alexandria federal court on charges of bank and tax fraud.
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.
"This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign", she wrote.
The president's former personal lawyer has separately pleaded guilty in NY.
The plea was all the more stunning for the fact that Manafort is the fifth Trump aide to plead guilty in connection to the special counsel's probe. And according to the charging document, Manafort said of the anti-Tymoshenko allegations, "I have someone pushing it on the NY Post".
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Woodward replied that these "political statements", denying the quotes in the book, were designed "to protect their jobs". But Woodward stands by his reporting. "I think in our business, at times , we are cheating the public".
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Under the terms of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped the bulk of the charges against Manafort, filing new paperwork that includes just two counts that resemble in many ways the original allegations made in an indictment past year.
The result also ensures that the investigation will extend far beyond the November congressional elections despite entreaties from the president's lawyer that Mueller bring his probe to a close.
Kevin M. Downing, an attorney for Manafort, also said this summer that there was "no chance" his client would flip and cooperate with prosecutors.
On another conspiracy-related front, as Natasha Bertrand points out today, Manafort might be in a good position to shed light on what exactly former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos - who has testified as part of his own plea deal that he learned that Russian Federation had stolen dirt on Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails" - might have told campaign higher ups about this at the time, another big unknown.
Friday's charging document replaces the prior indictment and calls for Manafort's forfeiture of real estate, money in four bank accounts and a life insurance policy.
Despite Manafort's job leading the campaign, the White House sought to distance itself on Friday from him and his case. He is yet to be sentenced in that case. But the plea nonetheless makes Manafort the latest associate of Trump, a president known to place a premium on loyalty among subordinates, to admit guilt and co-operate with investigators in hopes of leniency.
Attorney Ken White, writing earlier upon news of Manafort's expected plea and before news of the cooperation, made a similar suggestion that a pardon would be politically self-destructive. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts.