Manafort makes deal with Mueller to avoid another trial

Washington DC.- Manafort faces charges including conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy against the United States

MSNBC's Steve Kornacki asked the Harvard Law professor on Friday about the news that the former Trump campaign chairman is pleading guilty to the charges against him as part of a cooperation agreement with Robert Mueller.

Over a 40-year career, Manafort redefined and expanded Washington's influence industry domestically and internationally, parlaying successful campaigns into lobbying opportunities.

The scope of the cooperation was not immediately clear. "It is totally unrelated".

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Paul Manafort seated (L) as his lawyer speaks in court.

Westling agreed in court that the mistried counts in Virginia will be dropped with Manafort's admission of guilt to all his allegations. In DC, his seven criminal counts are rewritten as two. The former includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to file Foreign Bank Accounts, and the latter includes the charge of witness tampering.

Mr Mueller's office is notoriously tight lipped, speaking only through its court actions - but those actions have said plenty recently. He faces up to 80 years in prison on those charges.

With legions of Ivy League-educated prosecutors, the investigative resources of the FBI, the Treasury Department and virtually the entire federal bureaucracy at the disposal of prosecutors, an ordinary citizen has little chance of winning a court victory.

Reacting to Manafort's August conviction, President Trump described Manafort as a "good man", and once again labeled the Mueller probe as a "witch hunt".

It was the second version of the statement. "The reason: the president did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth". The amended version removed the phrase.

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Remember just three weeks ago, when Manafort stood convicted on bank and tax fraud, how Mr Trump lauded his decision not to flip. But last month, Trump expressed sympathy for him.

Manafort made millions of dollars working for pro-Russian Ukrainian politicians before taking an unpaid position with Trump's campaign for five months. He was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia.

A superseding criminal information was filed against Manafort in Washington ahead of a scheduled court appearance later Friday morning.

In December, Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn admitted to lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.

The plea deal precludes the need for the second trial, sparing Manafort the steep legal fees of a second round of prosecution. "Mueller would not have given him a deal unless Manafort was able to help Mueller make a case against someone else or significantly strengthen an existing case". A long time has passed since Manafort was charged earlier this year.

Neither of the cases against Manafort relates to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the central issue in the special counsel's investigation.

On the other hand, if he cooperates "fully and truthfully" with Mueller but does not implicate the President, he will nearly surely receive a presidential pardon. The president agreed to wait at least until the investigation concludes, Giuliani has said. "I'm confident", he replied, without saying whether Manafort's lawyers had given him this assurance.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now representing Trump in the Russian Federation probe, told Reuters news agency on Friday that a guilty plea to avoid a second trial would not crush Manafort's chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon. He is also accused of tampering with witnesses in the case.

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