Manafort pleads guilty ahead of new trial, to cooperate with Mueller

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Federal prosecutors filed new charges against former Trump presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort for conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to new court documents released Friday.

As part of the plea deal with Mueller, Manafort agreed to forfeit three of his homes and two apartments in NY as well as several bank accounts.

It is not clear whether any agreement with prosecutors would require him to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

Prosecutors hold all the cards: If they decide the information Manafort proffers is redundant or offers them little value, it's within their right to pull out of the agreement and continue prosecuting him. Manafort can shed light on his involvement in the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting, role in adding pro-Russia policies to the Republican platform, and the Trump campaign's contacts with Russian operatives.

A juror in the Virginia case said she discounted testimony from Gates but found the documents that prosecutors introduced to be "overwhelming" in favor of conviction. On Friday morning, however, that refusal came to an abrupt end.

The president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was asked by Reid whether he had been told by Manafort's attorneys that the cooperation deal will not require him to share anything related to the president.

Manafort's legal team blamed most of his problems on former business partner Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty in February and testified against Manafort in Virginia. Separately, Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, implicated him in a criminal campaign finance violation during his own plea hearing in federal court last month.

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

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"It is totally unrelated", said Sarah Sanders said, White House spokesperson.

President Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.

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.

Prosecutors will drop the five remaining charges in DC federal court against Manafort, including money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, violating federal foreign lobbying law and lying to the Department of Justice.

"He's accepted responsibility", Manafort's lawyer Kevin Downing, said.

The Virginia case was the first brought by Mueller to go to trial, and the guilty finding by the jury - on eight of 18 charges - was a significant victory for Mueller's team. He also has entered his guilty plea before the runup to the mid-term elections, avoiding the damaging anti-Trump headlines that could have emerged from a new trial in Washington. However, Manafort's web of connections in the murky world of lobbying and foreign influence means that the information prosecutors extract from him may not involve the president. After news of Manafort's conviction, Trump tweeted on August 22 that he felt "very badly" for Manafort and his family, adding, "U$3 nlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break"-make up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a courageous man!" Manafort is now only facing charges of conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will cooperate with the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, after months of refusing to do so.

Pierce noted that Manafort "didn't do much in the short time he managed" the Trump campaign beyond "softening the Republican Party's stance on Russian thuggery in the Ukraine, and maneuvering Mike Pence into the vice presidency".

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