Trump ex-campaign head Manafort changes mind, cooperates in Russian Federation probe

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In addition to the financial and lobbying charges against Manafort, the special counsel's team has said it's investigating allegations he colluded with Russian Federation while working for Trump. The cooperation ensures the investigation will extend far beyond the November midterm elections despite entreaties from the president's lawyers that Mueller bring it to a close.

Or Mueller may be directly interested in what Manafort, who led the Trump campaign from April through August 2016, can describe about the campaign's interactions with Russians.

The plea deal allows Manafort to avoid a second trial scheduled to begin next week in Washington.

As we know, Mueller has indicted 25 Russians (13 Russian entities were indicted earlier this year for their propaganda campaign, and 12 Russian intelligence officers (GRU) were indicted for hacking the DNC, DCCC, and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign during the 2016 election and leaking through DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0). The president's former personal lawyer has separately pleaded guilty in NY.

The deal, struck in Washington just days before Manafort was to have faced a second trial, is tied to Ukrainian political consulting work and unrelated to the Trump campaign.

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.

He smiled broadly as he entered the courtroom Friday but gave terse and barely audible answers during questioning from the judge. Trump has also favorably compared Manafort to Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer.

The cooperation deal requires Manafort to provide whatever information the government asks of him, though it does not specify what if anything prosecutors hope to receive about Trump.

The long-time Washington power player's fight against the special counsel investigation is over not with a bang, but with a plea deal.

He was also a close business associate of a man who U.S. intelligence believes has ties to Russian intelligence.

"Manafort also had close contact with two Russians during the campaign: Oleg Deripaska and Konstantin Kilimnik".

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the Manafort case has nothing to do with Trump. It was discontinued and then reinstated in 2016 after investigators caught a series of odd connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

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The White House says Manafort's decision to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller is "totally unrelated" to President Donald Trump.

Added Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani: "Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign".

"He's accepted responsibility and this is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that".

Friday's charging document replaces the prior indictment and calls for Manafort's forfeiture of real estate, money in four bank accounts and a life insurance policy. In this scenario, Manafort, in vowing to cooperate with the prosecution, would be seeking to force Trump's hand on the issue of a pardon. The president has signaled that he's sympathetic to Manafort's cause.

The language of the plea agreement is "really one-sided", she said.

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.

Westling agreed in court that the mistried counts in Virginia will be dropped with Manafort's admission of guilt to all his allegations.

The move allows Manafort to avoid a second criminal trial and ends his more than year-long fight against investigators in the Russian Federation probe. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts. Manafort admitted to leading a lobbying campaign for Ukraine for almost a decade and intentionally doing so without registering as a foreign agent.

Prosecutors allege that Manafort illegally lobbied on behalf of the Ukrainian government after failing to register as a foreign agent and laundered over $30 million from his business and evaded over $15 million in taxes.

The charges include conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Even though Manafort and the Trump legal team were operating under a joint defence agreement, in which they would share relevant information, it appears the details of the deal caught Mr Trump's side flat-footed.

His leadership of the campaign at a time when prosecutors say Russian intelligence was working to sway the election, and his involvement in episodes under scrutiny, may make him an especially insightful witness.