Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

READ: Special Counsel Releases Manafort Statement Of Offense

READ: Special Counsel Releases Manafort Statement Of Offense

Yuri Gripas/REUTERS/NewscomPaul Manafort, facing a second criminal trial about his secret financial ties to a former Russia-friendly Ukrainian president, has agreed to plead guilty to two charges and has agreed to cooperate with FBI Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Perhaps our real hope is an impending resignation: Oh this is big-Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign chairman is reportedly entering a plea deal to avoid a second bout in federal court.

But Friday's announcement was a political blow to the presidency ahead of 6 November mid-term elections that could determine whether or not Republicans maintain control of Congress. Usually it helps you get a pardon down the road. "It is totally unrelated". The president and his allies have repeatedly called for the investigation to wind down and he describes the probe as a "witch hunt".

Prosecutors dropped five other charges that included lobbying violations and money laundering.

I think it's pretty evident, then, that Trump is not going to be very pleased with Manafort suddenly changing his tune and deciding to work with Mueller.

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The language of the plea agreement is "really one-sided", she said.

Manafort was convicted last month on eight counts of fraud, bank fraud and failing to disclose banks accounts. In exchange, Manafort was assured that he will spend no more than a decade in prison for the two charges, so long as he fully coöperates with Mueller.

In August, Manafort was convicted at trial in Alexandria, Virginia, on charges that pre-dated his stint on Mr Trump's campaign and involved his work with pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

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.

The President's former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort told a federal judge "I plead guilty".

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It's unclear which charges Manafort is pleading guilty to.

Manafort is expected to appear in court later Friday morning.

News that Manafort has chose to break is quite surprising given that he had the option when facing his first trial over the summer.

As part of the lobbying campaign, Manafort admitted to hiring four former European heads of state and senior officials, including a former Austrian chancellor, an Italian prime minister, and a Polish president. The document accuses Manafort of using offshore accounts to hide income, cheating the United States out of more than $15 million in taxes. He volunteered that year to work for free on the Trump campaign, shepherding the candidate through the Republican National Convention before being pushed aside as questions about his influence-peddling emerged. It is not yet clear whether Manafort's cooperation is related to President Trump or whether he would provide information on some other aspect of the investigation.

First, Schiff noted, Mueller would likely want to know from Manafort as much as possible about the infamous Trump Tower meeting of June 2016, which Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Manafort attended in the full expectation of getting dirt on Hillary Clinton supplied by the Russian government.

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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. "There's nothing he can testify to that would probably lend weight to impeachment because he didn't have close contact with President Trump while he was president", he said. Another option would be to pardon Manafort immediately.

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