Manafort vi­o­lated plea agree­ment by ly­ing, pros­e­cu­tors say

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mer cam­paign chair­man Paul Manafort breached his plea deal by ly­ing to fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors, US pros­e­cu­tors said in a court fil­ing, sig­nal­ing a po­ten­tial set­back to the spe­cial coun­sel’s probe into Rus­sia’s med­dling in the 2016 US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Manafort said in the same fil­ing on Mon­day that he dis­agreed with Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller’s as­ser­tion that he had lied, but both sides agreed the court should move ahead and sen­tence him for his crimes.

With­out a par­don, the 69-year-old Manafort could spend the rest of his life in prison, ex­perts said.

The sur­prise de­vel­op­ment comes at a crit­i­cal time for Mueller, who is ex­pected to fi­nal­ize a re­port in the com­ing months on the find­ings of his 18-month probe into Rus­sia’s elec­tion med­dling and pos­si­ble col­lu­sion with the Trump cam­paign.

While not a fa­tal blow, the dis­so­lu­tion of Manafort’s plea agree­ment means Mueller is los­ing the con­tri­bu­tions of a wit­ness with deep ties to Rus­sia and who ran the Trump cam­paign as it took off in mid-2016.

“It’s bad for the over­all Mueller in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” said Pa­trick Cot­ter, a crim­i­nal de­fense lawyer in Chicago and for­mer as­sis­tant US at­tor­ney in New York. “He’s got one less wit­ness to­day.”

Still, Cot­ter said, it did not mean Manafort’s co­op­er­a­tion had not been of any value, not­ing that he may have led Mueller to other sources of in­for­ma­tion.

Manafort was a long-time Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant who made tens of mil­lions of dol­lars work­ing for pro-Krem­lin politi­cians in Ukraine be­fore join­ing the Trump cam­paign in March 2016, promis­ing to work for free.

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