Former Trump campaign manager to plead guilty in deal with Mueller

Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel

In the trial scheduled in Washington, Manafort faces charges of conspiring against the United States, money laundering, failing to register as a lobbyist, making false statements and conspiring to obstruct justice by trying to influence witnesses.

Earlier Friday, special counsel Robert Mueller filed a superseding criminal information document, which presages a plea deal.

It's unclear if Manafort will become or has become a cooperating witness, but some reports say the plea agreement appears to suggest he will.

The longtime political operator who had advised presidents from Gerald Ford to Trump has been incarcerated since mid-June, when D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled he posed a flight risk and a danger to the community.

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.

The charges do not involve Manafort's work for United States president Donald Trump.

President Donald Trump with Paul Manafort (far right) and Rick Gates (centre).

On Thursday, ABC News reported that Manafort's legal team had reached a tentative deal with Mueller's team after an hours-long meeting at the special counsel's downtown Washington, DC, offices.

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Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, leaves the Federal District Court after a hearing, in Washington, DC, May 23, 2018.

Manafort agreed to plead to conspiracy against the US and conspiracy to obstruct justice by tampering with witnesses. Had that juror been persuaded on the ten mistrial charges, Manafort could have been convicted of 18 criminal counts in Alexandria instead of "only" eight.

Manafort is due in federal court for what the Justice Department called "an arraignment and plea agreement hearing" on Friday morning, following the release of new charging documents against him.

Manafort made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians before taking an unpaid position with Trump's campaign for five months. "And prosecutors would naturally follow the money trail from Manafort's Ukrainian consulting activities".

"It's not going to hurt him if he pleads guilty".

"I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence", Manafort said in February. But even so, the former Trump campaign manager was evidently ready to cut his losses.

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

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