Trump ex-campaign head Manafort to cooperate with Russia probe

Paul Manafort looks on as Donald Trump appears at the Republican National Convention in July 2016. A superseding crim

Former Donald Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to two federal criminal charges in a Washington D.C. courthouse Friday - and is now cooperating with federal prosecutors, according to the latest high-stakes turn in the case.

Speaking at the hearing before U.S. District Court judge Amy Berman Jackson, Weissmann said the 17-page plea document included the terms of Manafort's expected cooperation.

None of the charges in question were directly related to the Trump campaign, and it's unclear whether the "cooperation agreement" announced by federal prosecutors Friday will see Manafort offer information on campaign activities specifically.

The charges accuse him of a conspiracy involving money laundering, tax fraud, failure to report foreign bank accounts, violating rules requiring registration of foreign agents, lying and witness tampering while performing consulting work with a Ukrainian political party.

If he pleads guilty, Manafort would avoid a trial that was expected to last at least three weeks and posed the potential of adding years onto the seven to 10 years he is already facing under federal sentencing guidelines from his conviction in Virginia.

Continued Downing: "He wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life".

President Donald Trump knows that politically, he can't pardon Manafort now, Rossi said.

Trump last month praised his former campaign aide for not entering into an agreement with prosecutors, as the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had. Gates pleaded guilty in February to helping Manafort use bank accounts in Cyprus and Grenadines to hide millions they had made while lobbying for Ukrainian politicians.

In a statement Friday, the President's attorney Rudy Giuliani reiterated that confidence.

The document also says Manafort "orchestrated a scheme to have, as he wrote in a contemporaneous communication, '[O] bama jews' put pressure on the administration to disavow Tymoshenko and support Yanukovych", the document said. The guilty plea also underscores the seriousness of this investigation. That Mueller accepted the plea deal means they believe he certainly must have helpful information about somebody's illegal behavior, but this should not be taken to mean that it's about Trump.

"This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said of the Manafort news on Friday. Mueller has also gotten guilty pleas from former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, while Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in a case referred to the Southern District of NY by Mueller's office.

In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24 before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. Gates testified against Manafort in the Virginia trial, saying his former boss had directed him to commit the fraud.

He had other charges dropped but could still face 10 years in prison on the two charges in Washington.

The Virginia case was the first brought by Mueller to go to trial, and the guilty finding by the jury - on eight of 18 charges - was a significant victory for Mueller's team.

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