Key Takeaways from Paul Manafort's Plea Deal With Mueller

Posted September 15, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortManafort reaches "tentative" plea deal with Mueller: report Giuliani says possible Manafort plea deal not a concern Manafort seeks plea deal without special counsel cooperation: report MORE agreed to forfeit his apartment in Trump Tower instead of one his bank accounts in his plea deal with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE.

After months of refusing to assist Special Counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian interference and possible coordination between Trump campaign members and Moscow, Manafort finally took a plea deal on Friday and agreed to cooperate in return for reduced charges. "If Mueller does intend to pursue a case against Stone, he suddenly has [his] oldest confidant as a cooperating witness". This has also been one of President Trump's greatest fears.

Manafort pleaded guilty Friday to conspiracy to obstruct justice and conspiracy against the United States, including money laundering, tax fraud, failing to register as a foreign agent and lying to the government.

Manafort's decision to plead guilty and cooperate with prosecutors Friday could indicate he didn't feel he could count on Trump for a pardon. The meeting was described as part of the Russian government effort to help the Trump campaign.

For months, analysts, experts and political talking heads have speculated Trump could reward Manafort with a presidential pardon for holding out on a plea agreement - where he would be asked all sorts of questions about his dealings with the president on the 2016 campaign - and going to trial. "It is totally unrelated", said Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

The White House had previously distanced itself from Manafort and downplayed his time leading the Trump campaign. In summary, he said later, this is a big victory for Mueller. A grand jury used by Mueller has heard testimony about the meeting.

Manafort may have tendered his plea for a variety of reasons including the possibility that it would protect his family from financial ruin and the fact that at age 69, the sentences likely to be imposed in both his Virginia and Washington cases could have ensured that he would spend the rest of his life in prison.

But depending on the extent of his cooperation and the degree to which prosecutors argue for reducing his sentence, Manafort could end up getting anywhere from a year to five years in prison, according to Mark Allenbaugh.

"I do", he said repeatedly, waiving each right. The judge in the District of Columbia case ordered his detention on June 15 after reviewing evidence (pdf) that Manafort attempted to tamper with witnesses and determining that the defendant could not be trusted to comply with the judicial process. Gates testified against Manafort in the Virginia trial, saying his former boss had directed him to commit the fraud. Trump has also favorably compared Manafort to Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer.

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Manafort's plea deal follows agreements that Mueller's team had already reached with Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Manafort's former deputy Rick Gates.

Courtroom sketch of former Donald Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort at federal court in Washington.

"This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign". He was campaign chairman when WikiLeaks began publishing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee by hackers that USA intelligence has linked to Russian Federation. Instead, the new one declared, "Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign". Trump's critics have pointed to the meeting as evidence of the collusion with Russian Federation that Trump denies. During the convention, the party's platform on Ukraine was altered in a way that made it more in line with Russian interests.

Although the precise nature of Manafort's cooperation remains unclear, reaction to the news on Friday was swift.

By striking an 11th-hour deal with Mueller, Manafort could be putting that potential pardon in jeopardy.

On Friday, prosecutor Andrew Weissman said in court that Manafort had struck a "co-operation agreement" and would plead guilty to charges related to his Ukrainian political consulting work.

"Mr. Manafort engaged in a variety of criminal schemes".

"As always, Rule No. 1 with Mueller, you don't know what he knows", Litman said.

Under the terms of the deal, Manafort was allowed to plead guilty to just two counts, though the crimes he admitted largely overlap with the conduct alleged in an indictment previous year.