Despite guilty plea, Paul Manafort still holds the Trump card

Paul Manafort

Modal Trigger Getty Images

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortManafort reaches "tentative" plea deal with Mueller: report Giuliani says possible Manafort plea deal not a concern Manafort seeks plea deal without special counsel cooperation: report MORE agreed to forfeit his apartment in Trump Tower instead of one his bank accounts in his plea deal with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE.

Even though the Manafort case was tangential to the central thrust of Mr Mueller's inquiry - relating to his work as a lobbyist, and not possible ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign - this still marks a significant development in the special counsel's investigation. The result also ensures the investigation will extend far beyond the November congressional elections despite entreaties from the president's lawyers that Mueller bring his probe to a close.

Manafort had other charges dropped but he could still go to prison, marking a steep fall from grace for a multi-millionaire who was often at Trump's side as the Republican candidate took US politics by storm in 2016.

Cornell University professor of law Jens David Ohlin said it was hard to predict what information a cooperation agreement will yield but that Manafort's plea deal could be a serious problem for Trump. But as Newt Gingrich observed on August 19, 2016, on Fox News: "Nobody should underestimate how much Paul Manafort did to really help get this campaign to where it is right now". The president's former personal lawyer has separately pleaded guilty in NY.

Andrew Weissmann, a federal prosecutor on Mueller's team, said that other charges may be dropped at sentencing or "or at the agreement of successful cooperation".

Manafort had previously been found guilty of eight counts of bank and tax fraud charges last month in a trial in Virginia.

He smiled broadly as he entered the courtroom Friday but gave terse and barely audible answers during questioning from the judge. "He wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life".

In brief responses, Manafort, 69, said he had sufficient time to consider his plea and that he was of sound mind.

Over the past several months, Manafort's legal options slimmed as the special counsel notched several wins against him, including sending him to jail, securing several cooperators and gaining convictions.

Manafort's involvement in the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Natalia Veselnitskaya (a Russian lawyer and self-described informant), and Russian operatives is also of interest to Mueller.

John Terry could have future on Maurizio Sarri's coaching staff at Chelsea
"I remember in my first season in Naples, the average points per match during the season was 2.28, I think", he said. Sarri says he could try to stop smoking for "one, two years.no more".

He was also a close business associate of a man who USA intelligence believes has ties to Russian intelligence. And while he was working on the Trump campaign, emails show Manafort discussed providing private briefings for a wealthy Russian businessman close to Vladimir Putin. The White House said in a statement that the agreement had "absolutely nothing to do" with the president or his 2016 campaign. "It is totally unrelated".

A court hearing was scheduled Friday for Paul Manafort amid reports that President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman was nearing a plea deal to avoid trial on charges stemming from work he did for pro-Russia political forces in Ukraine.

"He's accepted responsibility and this is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that".

In recent days, as the Manafort plea talks were ongoing, the President's legal team expressed confidence that if Manafort signed a cooperation agreement it wouldn't have anything to do with the President, according to a source briefed on their thinking. Giuliani said he spoke to Trump on Friday about Manafort's plea.

Prosecutors had filed new charging documents against Manafort. Nothing linking President Trump personally to any criminal acts surfaced during the first Manafort trial in Virginia.

Even Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has been one of Trump's most staunch defenders in the Russian Federation probe in numerous media appearances, conceded on Friday that Mueller's deal securing Manafort's cooperation was "a big win" and "big get" for the investigation into Trump's ties to Russian Federation, adding, "Potentially it opens up lots of doors that probably haven't been open before", according to an NBC News report. Manafort did not contest the other five counts against him.

In the current Washington case, prosecutors had been expected to lay out in detail Manafort's political consulting and lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Russian Party of Regions.

The charges include conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

"Manafort essentially took over the campaign as of mid-April 2016 and was Trump's go-to man during a critical period of the campaign", De la Vega told the Guardian. A judge sent him to prison when prosecutors accused him of attempting to tamper with the testimony of two witnesses.

Latest News