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Manafort plea deal begs key question: What does he know?

15 September, 2018, 19:09 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement after the deal was announced.

The White House says Manafort's decision to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller is "totally unrelated" to President Donald Trump.

In court on Friday, Manafort stood stock still before the judge, answering her questions with single words in a low tone, or sat at the defense table.

"I do", he said repeatedly, waiving each right.

Manafort was convicted in Virginia on charges that pre-dated his stint on the Trump campaign and involved his work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. In DC, his seven criminal counts are rewritten as two. The two conspiracy counts he admitted to on Friday carry up to five years, though Manafort's sentence will ultimately depend on his cooperation.

Paul Manafort's plea agreement is a monstrously one-sided deal in favor of the government.

With legions of Ivy League-educated prosecutors, the investigative resources of the FBI, the Treasury Department and virtually the entire federal bureaucracy at the disposal of prosecutors, an ordinary citizen has little chance of winning a court victory.

Manafort already faces an eight to 10 year sentence after the jury in a separate Virginia trial convicted him on August 21 of eight counts of financial wrongdoing. But the key question remains what information Manafort, 69, is able to provide about the president and the question of whether the Trump election effort coordinated with Russian Federation.

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani also commented, saying, "Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign".

Manafort's agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to cooperate "fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly" could put to the test U.S. President Donald Trump's denials of campaign collusion with Russian Federation, lawyers not involved in the case said. The initial version, which was quickly revised, included "Paul Manafort will tell the truth" as part of the quote.

Any light Manafort could shed on that meeting and other episodes could deepen the Mueller probe, legal experts said, increasing the pressure on Trump.

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They are one of the best counter-attacking teams in Europe. "It will be a very tough opponent", said the Argentinian. Dele Alli is out for Spurs with a hamstring injury while Hugo Lloris is sidelined with a thigh problem.

It is unclear what information Manafort is prepared to provide to investigators about President Donald Trump or that could aid Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. But last month, Trump expressed sympathy for him.

Friday's charging document replaces the prior indictment and calls for Manafort's forfeiture of real estate, money in four bank accounts and a life insurance policy.

He also will admit to lying to banks about his assets to gain new loans as a way to supplement his income, according to the filing. Manafort was accused of concealing from the IRS tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from his Ukrainian patrons and conspiring to launder that money through offshore accounts in Cyprus and elsewhere.

His trial, brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, was scheduled to begin with jury selection in Washington, D.C., Monday.

Pleading guilty to these charges allowed Manafort to make a deal with prosecutors, and avoid adding jail time to the ten years he is already facing for the earlier convictions. Special counsel Robert Mueller charged Manafort as part of a probe into alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Manafort agreed as part of his plea deal Friday to "cooperate fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly" with Mueller's team and other law enforcement officials.

The breach clause of the plea deal is remarkably bare, and the government has retained the right to use anything Manafort says in his cooperation meetings against him if prosecutors decide to pull out of the agreement and try him. The allegations revealed last October reiterated a year of news reports that Manafort had secretly funneled income from Ukrainian lobbying contacts for years.

Prosecutors also gained the cooperation of his longtime associate Rick Gates, who had been indicted alongside him.

But what Manafort knows about the Trump Tower Russian meeting may be only "the tip of the iceberg", according to Vox's global security expert Alex Ward.

He had steadfastly refused to cooperate with Mueller even as the Virginia jury convicted him for hiding from USA tax authorities $16 million he earned as a political consultant in Ukraine to fund an opulent lifestyle and then lying to banks to secure $20 million in loans.

Under the circumstances, Paul Manafort's decision to avoid financial ruin and reduce his possible prison exposure by pleading guilty was entirely understandable.

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