Paul Manafort Enters Guilty Plea In Second Trial

Erika Holt
September 15, 2018

On Friday, prosecutor Andrew Weissman said in court that Manafort had struck a "cooperation agreement" and would plead guilty to charges related to his Ukrainian political consulting work. And last month Trump praised Manafort for being "brave" and refusing to "break" to take a plea deal.

Manafort, 69, also pleaded guilty to two criminal counts, becoming the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation.

Manafort appeared at the hearing with three attorneys, including Kevin Downing, who said nothing during the hearing.

The move comes as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation increasingly pressures the White House. Several lawyers, Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS agents who had worked on the case attended the hearing, occupying two-and-a-half rows in the audience.

Friday's move gives Mueller another successful conviction while allowing Manafort to avoid facing another costly public trial.

"Manafort cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes", the filing states, adding that in order to commit the crimes, he relied on help from both his longtime deputy Rick Gates and the Russian Konstantin Kilimnik. The former includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to file Foreign Bank Accounts, and the latter includes the charge of witness tampering.

Manafort was convicted last month of eight financial crimes out of 18 in a separate trial in Virginia. The jury was deadlocked on the remaining 10 counts, which ended in mistrial. "It shows you've admitted your guilt", he said before the deal was announced. And during his Virginia trial in August, Manafort's lawyers spent considerable time painting Gates as a liar, embezzler, philanderer and turncoat who would say anything to get a lighter prison sentence. But that is more than the statutory maximum which is five years, which the judge can not exceed.

Read the charges against Manafort.

President Donald Trump knows that politically, he can't pardon Manafort now, Rossi said.

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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.

"Once he agrees to cooperate, he has to cooperate about everything", Dershowitz said. "I do", he replied. "At one point, Manafort wrote to an associate, "I have someone pushing it on the NY Post".

The planned plea, if accepted by a judge, would short-circuit his second trial scheduled to begin this month in the District on charges of money laundering and lobbying violations.

"This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said of the Manafort news on Friday.

In this photo taken July 21, 2016, then-Trump Campaign manager Paul Manafort stands between the then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka Trump during a walk through at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. "It is totally unrelated". A long time has passed since Manafort was charged earlier this year.

Arlington, Virginia property on Edgewood Street.

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.

Despite his cooperation, Manafort could still face 10 years in prison on the two charges in Washington alone.

Behind bars in the Alexandria, Va., detention center, Manafort's dark hair has sprouted patches of gray.

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