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Ex-Trump aide Manafort agrees to cooperate with Mueller, pleads guilty

Paul Manafort is already looking at between eight and 12 years in jail for his conviction of bank fraud, tax evasion and financial irregularities in a case tried by a federal court in Virginia state.

world Updated: Sep 15, 2018 15:19 IST
Hindustan Times, Washington
Paul Manafort,Ex-Trump aide,Manafort
Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, will cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election as part of a plea agreement, prosecutors said on Friday. (Reuters Photo)

Paul Manafort, the former chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, will cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election as part of a plea agreement, prosecutors said on Friday.

Manafort, 69, is already looking at between eight and 12 years in jail for his conviction of bank fraud, tax evasion and financial irregularities in a case tried by a federal court in Virginia state, where he lives. He was with Trump’s campaign from March to August 2016,

He will plead guilty to two of seven charges in the second case — of conspiracy to defraud the US, and of obstructing justice, according to a court filing in Washington.

Both cases emanated from work Manafort did as a lobbyist for the ruling party of Ukraine and its successor incarnation between 2006 and 2015 — before he joined the Trump campaign. None of the charges brought against him relate to his work for the campaign or the Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In a statement, the White House distanced Trump from Manafort’s plea agreement. “This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Friday. “It is totally unrelated.”

Manafort is the fourth Trump aide to have pleaded guilty or been convicted in cases filed by Muller. The others are Rick Gates, a business associate of Manafort who was deputy chair of the Trump inauguration committee, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.

Michael Cohen, a former Trump lawyer and fixer, has pleaded guilty in a related case that was bumped over to the New York US attorney by Mueller.

Cohen was charged with bank fraud and campaign funding law violation, for which he has implicated Trump, alleging it was done at his behest and “in coordination” with him.

Trump has discussed granting presidential pardon to his aides implicated in this case, his lawyers have said, but was dissuaded to hold off on a decision till the conclusion of Mueller’s investigation.

First Published: Sep 15, 2018 08:15 IST