Paul Manafort will plead guilty, forfeit many assets in special counsel probe

Minnie Murray
September 14, 2018

Manafort would plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday.

The move avoids a potentially explosive trial that could embarrass President Trump seven weeks before hotly contested national elections.

According to the court filing, the charge of conspiracy against the United States includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, and acting as an unregistered lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

The conspiracy to obstruct justice charge is based on allegations of alleged witness tampering after Manafort was already initially charged with several crimes related to his work for the Ukrainian government.

The details of Manafort's plea were not immediately clear, including whether he would be providing any information to special counsel Robert Mueller as part of any deal. Manafort would be the fifth Trump aide to plead guilty in connection to the special counsel's probe.

It's unclear how the possible deal might affect Manafort's pursuit of a pardon from President Donald Trump.

In commissioning white-shoe US law firm Skadden Arps to write a report evaluating the trial of Yakuovych's political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko, Manafort helped the government of Ukraine hide the tremendous sum paid to the firm for this work.

The case was brought by Mueller's team, which is probing potential crimes related to the 2016 election. 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.

Manafort is due to appear in court later today for a plea hearing, ahead of his trial on charges relating to Ukrainian political consulting work.

Last month, Manafort was convicted on eight of 18 charges of bank and tax fraud.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissman said in court Friday that Manafort had struck a "cooperation agreement". Any deal would not be final until Manafort admits guilt before the judge, who would need to approve the plea. Gates may have been a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

The Virginia jury deadlocked on 10 counts - which prosecutors said Friday would be dismissed as part of the deal.

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