Paul Manafort to plead guilty to federal charges in deal with Mueller team

WASHINGTON – Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s campaign, has reached a plea deal with prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller, and is expected to plead guilty to federal charges on Friday morning.

The deal will enable Manafort, who was convicted of tax and bank fraud charges by a federal court jury in Virginia, to avoid a second trial. The lobbyist and longtime former political operative is scheduled for an arraignment at 11 a.m. in federal court in Washington where he is expected to enter his plea, prosecutors announced.

It is not clear if the agreement will include a requirement to cooperate in the ongoing inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Manafort’s former deputy Rick Gates already had agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation.

As recently as last month, Trump praised his former campaign, writing on Twitter that unlike his former attorney, Michael Cohen, who publicly implicated the president in a criminal campaign finance violation, Manafort “refused to break.” On Friday morning, however, that refusal appeared to come to an end as prosecutors signaled that he would plead guilty to two felonies.

Prosecutors working for Mueller earlier filed a new set of charges against Manafort in which they accused him of conspiring against the United States when he worked as an unregistered agent of a pro-Russian political faction in Ukraine, and of conspiring to obstruct justice by seeking to persuade two people who had helped with that work to offer inaccurate accounts to federal investigators. 

The charges replace a raft of separate accusations that Manafort had failed to register as a foreign agent, lied to the government, laundered money and committed fraud. In the filing on Friday, Mueller’s office said Manafort laundered more than $30 million from his work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, then “used his hidden overseas wealth to enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States.” The crime, prosecutors said, spanned 11 years, ending in 2017.

Manafort’s wife, Kathleen, declined comment as she awaited the hearing.

She has been a constant presence at her husband’s court hearings and attended every day of testimony at Manafort’s trial last month in Virginia.

In addition to the criminal charges, prosecutors said in a court filing that Manafort could be forced to forfeit assets that would deal him a significant financial blow: four houses he owns, including an expansive retreat in the Hamptons, plus four bank accounts and the proceeds of a life insurance policy.

See Manafort filing below:

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