Former Trump campaign manager Manafort pleads guilty, will cooperate with special counsel

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI  AFP

The deal gives special counsel Robert Mueller a key cooperator who steered the Trump election effort for a pivotal stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is representing Trump in the Russian Federation probe, told Reuters on Friday that Manafort "knows nothing harmful to the president and the plea is the best evidence of that".

Schiff also pointed out that Manafort could conceivably open up about the joint-defense agreement he previously had with Trump, in which the two shared confidential information in a privileged setting.

The indicted former campaign chairman, according to reporting from CBS News in late October of 2016, was the person who moved the ex-Indiana governor into the role of Donald Trump's running mate.

Jury selection was due to begin on Monday in a second Manafort trial on charges including conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the U.S., failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering.

The language of the plea agreement is "really one-sided", she said.

The others are Michael Cohen, former campaign adviser Michael Flynn, deputy chairman Rick Gates, attorney Alex van der Zwaan and businessman Richard Pinedo.

On Twitter on August 22, Trump wrote: "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal". When asked about the possibility last month after Manafort was convicted by the first jury, Trump said, "I would say what he did, some of the charges they threw against him, every consultant, every lobbyist in Washington probably does".

He was among the participants, for instance, in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians and Trump's oldest son and son-in-law that was arranged for the campaign to receive derogatory information about Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Russian Federation has denied any involvement in meddling with the USA presidential election of 2016.

In the Washington case, prosecutors were set to lay out in great detail Manafort's political consulting and lobbying work, done through 2014, on behalf of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Russian Party of Regions. In this scenario, Manafort, in vowing to cooperate with the prosecution, would be seeking to force Trump's hand on the issue of a pardon.

Both cases brought against Manafort by the special counsel stem from his work in Ukraine.

Manafort was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia and faces seven to 10 years in prison in that case.

Regardless of the reasoning, this mysterious change does make us question just what is going through the minds of Trump and his legal team after Manafort seems to have caught them off guard with his cooperation.

But the court papers filed September 14 also indicate that Manafort will forfeit his four homes to the federal government.

"He's accepted responsibility", Manafort's lawyer Kevin Downing, said.

The deal requires Manafort to cooperate "fully and truthfully" with special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

Jury selection was due to begin on Monday on charges including conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering. Stone's communications have been a subject of the Mueller investigation, sources familiar with interviews of other Stone associates have said.

"And prosecutors would naturally follow the money trail from Manafort's Ukrainian consulting activities".

Moscow rejects the conclusions of US intelligence agencies that it interfered in the American democratic process and Trump denies campaign collusion.

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