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