Ex-trump aide Manafort to tell all about Rus­sia in plea bar­gain

The Daily Telegraph - - World News - By Ben Ri­ley-smith US ED­I­TOR

PAUL MANAFORT, Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man, has agreed to co­op­er­ate “fully” with the Rus­sian elec­tion-med­dling in­ves­ti­ga­tion in a plea deal to avoid a sec­ond crim­i­nal trial, it emerged yes­ter­day.

Manafort will have to un­dergo in­ter­views and de­brief­ings with the in­quiry’s pros­e­cu­tors, hand over doc­u­ments and tes­tify in fu­ture cases as part of the agree­ment, a judge said.

It means that a mem­ber of the Trump cam­paign’s in­ner cir­cle has now agreed to tell Robert Mueller, the spe­cial coun­sel lead­ing the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, what hap­pened be­hind closed doors dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial race.

Manafort pleaded guilty to two crim­i­nal charges – one for con­spir­acy against the United States and an­other for con­spir­acy to ob­struct jus­tice – but five other charges were dropped as part of the deal.

He brings the to­tal num­ber of Trump aides who have pleaded guilty to crimes to five. The oth­ers are Michael Co­hen, his for­mer at­tor­ney; Michael Flynn, the for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser; Rick Gates, his for­mer deputy cam­paign chair­man; and Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, his for­mer cam­paign for­eign pol­icy ad­viser.

Manafort’s crimes re­late to his busi­ness deal­ings in Ukraine as a po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant be­fore he joined the cam­paign. Sarah San­ders, Mr Trump’s press sec­re­tary, said: “This had ab­so­lutely noth­ing to do with the pres­i­dent or his vic­to­ri­ous 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. It is to­tally un­re­lated.”

Manafort has re­peat­edly re­fused to co­op­er­ate with the Mueller probe. But last month he was found guilty of eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud and fail­ure to re­port a for­eign bank ac­count. He was ex­pected to face a prison term of up to a decade.

Shortly af­ter Manafort was con­victed, Mr Trump called him “brave” for not “flip­ping” and agree­ing to hand over in­for­ma­tion in re­turn for le­niency. There were re­ports that the US pres­i­dent had dis­cussed us­ing his ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers to par­don Manafort.

How­ever, with Manafort fac­ing a sec­ond crim­i­nal trial, re­ports be­gan to sur­face that he was con­sid­er­ing a deal.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, Mr Mueller’s team filed a new doc­u­ment out­lin­ing two crim­i­nal charges (down from an orig­i­nal seven). The first charge re­lated to money-laun­der­ing, tax fraud, for­eign bank ac­counts, lob­by­ing and mak­ing mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the Jus­tice Depart­ment. The sec­ond was linked to wit­ness tam­per­ing.

Ap­pear­ing in court in Alexan­dria, Vir­ginia, Manafort pleaded guilty. Judge Amy Ber­man Jack­son said that as part of the plea deal he would have to co­op­er­ate “fully and truth­fully” with Mr Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Jane Fonda this week at the pre­miere of HBO’S film doc­u­men­tary ‘Jane Fonda In Five Acts’ at the Ham­mer Mu­seum in Los An­ge­les

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