Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Trump campaign chief Manafort will help Mueller investigation in plea deal

Paul Manafort looks on as Donald Trump appears at the Republican National Convention in July 2016. A superseding crim Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel
Charlie Simmons | 15 September, 2018, 12:15

He is also required to sit for interviews and briefings with the special counsel's office, to turn over documents and to testify in other proceedings, Judge Amy Berman Jackson announced.

The punishment that Manafort may receive related to his D.C. case, and any cooperation he may have offered the government, weren't immediately clear.

"If the president were to pardon him now and allow him to walk free tomorrow, Bob Mueller already knows the answers to those questions", Miller said.

Here's how it all shakes out.

But Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz, who has received a lot of flak over the past year for defending Trump at times despite being a self-described liberal, says Team Trump should be deeply concerned about Manafort's agreement to fully cooperate with Mueller investigation, though he stressed that it's unlikely Manafort would have any evidence that could lead to impeachment.

As a political consultant in Ukraine and former business partner of Russian oligarchs, Manafort had a network of relationships in the former Soviet bloc that could shed light on the Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

From the point of view of Mueller, this is a "big win", said Dershowitz.

Manafort was to go on trial again in Washington next week. "This case is not going to be tried before a jury", Giuliani told TIME in June.

But what Manafort knows about the Trump Tower Russian meeting may be only "the tip of the iceberg", according to Vox's global security expert Alex Ward. To that end, his plea deal with Manafort could potentially lead to valuable insight into the inner workings of the Trump campaign.

At the time of Gates' plea, Manafort issued a statement saying he "had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence". Giuliani added that "the president did nothing wrong".

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The scope of co-operative plea deals are usually vague, and this one is no different. Manafort must provide all the information that the Special Counsel asks for. He was engaged in money laundering even as he was campaign chairman for Trump and for many years he was clearly involved in numerous activities in Ukraine, including the audacious gambit of trying to " put pressure " on what he apparently called "Obama jews"-Obama administration officials.

President Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.

Manafort took cryptic notes about that meeting, including worlds like "Illici" and phrases like "Offshore - Cyprus" and "Active sponsors of RNC".

Manafort had the choice to consolidate both cases into one but declined. In conversations with Mueller's team, he is making good on what he told ABC earlier this summer: "that his loyalty to Trump is no longer his lodestar".

Manafort is said to have struck a deal after being spooked about the prospect of being convicted of eight further offenses at his upcoming trial and spending the rest of his life in jail. The ostrich jacket is gone, as are four of his homes. "He's accepted responsibility and this is for conduct that dates back many years".

Although the precise nature of Manafort's cooperation remains unclear, reaction to the news on Friday was swift.

There's been plenty of speculation that Manafort could be rescued by a presidential pardon. Prosecutors said they had to examine whether Russia-backed politicians and oligarchs served as a back channel to Russian Federation in the campaign.

Manafort, 69, was a key figure in Mr Trump's inner circle, but the president has since sought to distance himself from his former adviser.

From the inside of a prison, state and federal convictions all look the same.

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