Manafort agrees to co-op­er­ate

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - WORLD NEWS - Eric Tucker, chad day and Michael Balsamo the as­so­ci­ated press

Wash­ing­ton — u.s. pres­i­dent don­ald trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man paul manafort agreed Fri­day to co­op­er­ate with the spe­cial coun­sel’s rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion as he pleaded guilty to fed­eral charges and avoided a sec­ond trial that could have ex­posed him to even greater pun­ish­ment.

the deal gives spe­cial coun­sel robert mueller a key co-op­er­a­tor who led the trump elec­tion ef­fort for a cru­cial stretch dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. the re­sult also en­sures the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will ex­tend far be­yond the Novem­ber con­gres­sional elec­tions de­spite en­treaties from the pres­i­dent’s lawyers that mueller bring his probe to a close.

it is un­clear what in­for­ma­tion manafort is pre­pared to pro­vide to in­ves­ti­ga­tors about trump or that could aid mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. but the plea none­the­less makes manafort the lat­est as­so­ciate of trump to ad­mit guilt and co­op­er­ate with in­ves­ti­ga­tors in hopes of le­niency.

in the past year, mueller has se­cured pleas from a for­mer na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser who lied to the Fbi about dis­cussing sanc­tions with a rus­sian am­bas­sador, a cam­paign aide who broached the idea of a meet­ing with rus­sian pres­i­dent Vladimir putin; and an­other aide who was in­dicted along­side manafort but ul­ti­mately turned on him. the pres­i­dent’s for­mer per­sonal lawyer michael Co­hen has sep­a­rately pleaded guilty in New york.

Fri­day’s deal, to charges tied to ukrainian po­lit­i­cal con­sult­ing work but un­re­lated to the cam­paign, was struck just days be­fore manafort was to have stood trial for a sec­ond time.

he was con­victed last month of eight fi­nan­cial crimes in a sep­a­rate trial in Vir­ginia and faces seven to 10 years in prison in that case. the two con­spir­acy counts he pleaded guilty to on Fri­day carry up to five years in prison, though manafort’s sen­tence will ul­ti­mately de­pend on his co-op­er­a­tion.

he smiled broadly as he en­tered the court­room Fri­day but gave terse and barely au­di­ble an­swers dur­ing ques­tion­ing from the judge.

“he wanted to make sure that his fam­ily was able to re­main safe and live a good life. he’s ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity. this is for con­duct that dates back many years and ev­ery­body should re­mem­ber that,” said at­tor­ney Kevin down­ing.

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