Manafort Reaches Plea Deal With Special Counsel Mueller

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Manafort Reaches Plea Deal With Special Counsel Mueller

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, was expected to entry a guilty plea as part of an agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, fending off a second trial over his lobbying activity on behalf of foreign governments.

Paul Manafort has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, court documents say.

As part of the deal, Manafort, 69, could be required to cooperate with Mueller's probe into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation in the 2016 US presidential election.

Manafort was facing a second trial set to begin on Monday in Washington on charges related to Ukrainian political consulting work. Five other charges were dropped in the new court filing. Such filings typically indicate that a deal has been reached.

Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner and the campaign's deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia.

In the Washington case, prosecutors accused him of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act by not telling the Justice Department about a multimillion-dollar campaign to improve the image of Yanukovych and his Party of Regions in Europe and the U.S. Jurors would have heard about how he hired prominent U.S. firms like the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs LLC to help him, along with several European former elected officials. 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.

The allegations do not involve his work with the Trump presidential campaign.

If Manafort were to cooperate with Mueller, that could provide investigators new evidence or leads to chase; a guilty plea, however, would prevent weeks worth of headlines about the trial in the month before congressional elections.

The move toward a guilty plea is another reversal for Manafort, who has fought vociferously - but unsuccessfully - against Mueller's probe.

Manafort has been in jail since June, when the judge in the D.C. case, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, threw him in pretrial detention for alleged witness tampering.

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