Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Paul Manafort plans to plead guilty to second set of charges

Paul Manafort plans to plead guilty to second set of charges

In a dramatic reversal, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is poised to plead guilty Friday morning to federal criminal charges arising from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe.

The charges in Friday's filing were contained in a criminal information, a document that can only be filed with a defendant's consent and typically signals a deal has been reached.

The new court filing indicates that prosecutors have taken a number of the earlier charges against Manafort, including a money laundering charge that could, on its own, bring a 20-year sentence, and folded them into two charges that would each yield five-year sentences.

Several media outlets reported that Manafort is close to a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

Kathleen Manafort, wife of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, arrives prior to a pre-trial hearing for Paul Manafort ahead of his upcoming trial on a range of charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., September 14, 2018.

Jury selection was due to begin on Monday in a second trial on charges including conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering.

The former Trump aide is scheduled to appear at a hearing for the trial at 11:00 a.m. on Friday.

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If Manafort were to cooperate with Mueller, that could provide investigators new evidence or leads to chase; a guilty plea, however, would prevent weeks worth of headlines about the trial in the month before congressional elections.

The move toward a guilty plea is another reversal for Manafort, who has fought vociferously - but unsuccessfully - against Mueller's probe.

"I feel very badly for Paul Manafort", Trump told reporters after a federal jury found Manafort guilty on eight counts of federal tax and banking crimes in August.

Manafort's conviction in Alexandria, Virginia, last month was at a trial arising from Mueller's investigation.

Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner and the campaign's deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia.

Manafort has been in jail since June, when the judge in the D.C. case, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, threw him in pretrial detention for alleged witness tampering.

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