Former Trump manager Manafort to plead guilty in Mueller probe: court documents

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI  AFP

Paul Manafort signalled Friday he intends to plead guilty ahead of a second trial in the U.S.as prosecutors filed new charging documents against Donald Trump's former campaign chairman.

Mr. Manafort, convicted by a Virginia jury in August on bank and tax fraud charges, was due to go on trial a second time on related charges in Washington.

The special counsel's Friday superseding information against Paul Manafort is packed with new specifics about his lucrative work as an unregistered foreign lobbyist for Ukraine.

Details of the deal are likely to emerge in a plea agreement hearing in federal court.

The charges include conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice. "In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, MANAFORT, with the assistance of Gates and Kilimnik, laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts".

It comes three weeks after Paul Manafort was convicted in a separate trial on eight counts related to financial fraud, and as the Mueller investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation increasingly pressures the White House.

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Manafort's legal team blamed most of his problems on former business partner Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty this year and testified against Manafort in Virginia.

Manafort's cooperation would be viewed as significant to Mueller's investigation, given his work on the Trump campaign.

The charges do not relate to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and jurors are expected to only hear limited references to Manafort's role in the campaign. Kilimnik was charged alongside Manafort in June with conspiracy to obstruct justice, but is unlikely to see his day in court because he is Russian and therefore out of reach of US prosecutors. The jury was deadlocked on the remaining 10 counts, which ended in mistrial.

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

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has cut a "cooperation agreement" with prosecutors and intends to plead guilty to charges related to his Ukrainian consulting work. The three-week trial centered on income Manafort earned working as a political consultant for pro-Russian Ukraine.

Manafort's guilty plea would come with a detailed admission of wrongdoing, which could shed light on his interactions with oligarchs from Ukraine and Russian Federation.

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