Published: Sat, September 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Mueller Drops Most of Manafort’s Charges as Part of Cooperation Agreement

Mueller Drops Most of Manafort’s Charges as Part of Cooperation Agreement

Former federal prosecutor Harry Sandick said it was too soon to say how much Manafort's cooperation could affect the investigation into possible collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russians.

That trial was supposed to start next week in Washington.

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. He's already been convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud crimes in the Virginia trial. Trump had not said he would pardon Manafort, but nor had he ruled it out.

Wearing a purple tie beneath his dark suit, Manafort looked glum as the hearing unfolded, standing next to his attorney, Richard Westling, with a court security officer standing immediately behind him. Regarding the Washington case, Manafort was accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, conspiring to launder money, and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department about the nature of his work. Presidential personal counsel Rudy Guiliani hinted that unlike another "flipper", Michael Cohen, who Guiliani has called a "scumbag", Manafort continues to enjoy favored status in the White House.

Prosecutor Andrew Weismann told the court that the deal includes a "cooperation agreement", which could pose yet another major legal headache to Trump.

On Twitter on August 22, Trump wrote: "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal".

Hey guys, the president's former campaign chairman just plead guilty to crimes including Conspiracy Against The United States, and it sounds like a pretty big deal. He had another trial coming up this month, and this plea deal was his way of avoiding it.

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Mr Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation.

Another 26 people and three businesses, in Russia, have been indicted, including 12 Russian military intelligence officers accused of involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee computers in 2016.

Trump has denied colluding with the Russians and the Russians have denied interfering.

"He knows nothing harmful to the president and the plea is the best evidence of that", Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is representing Trump in the Russian Federation probe, told Reuters. "I'm confident", he replied, without saying whether Manafort's lawyers had given him this assurance.

Prosecutors filed new charging documents against Manafort which contained a criminal information, a document that can only be filed with a defendant's consent and typically signals a deal has been reached.

The White House had previously distanced itself from Manafort and downplayed his time leading the Trump campaign.

It's true that nothing public in Mueller's investigation so far has touched Trump on the central questions of collusion with Russian Federation or obstruction of justice.

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