Manafort Pleading Guilty, Avoiding Second Trial

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Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, is pleading guilty to federal crimes Friday, ending his long losing battle with special counsel Robert Mueller, reports the Washington Post. The plea avoids the need for his second trial, which had been scheduled to begin Monday in Washington, D.C., on charges of money laundering and lobbying violations. Prosecutor Andrew Weissman said in court Friday that Manafort had struck a “cooperation agreement,” the Associated Press reports. He did not elaborate on the agreement, but it could mean that Manafort would provide information to the special counsel’s probe related to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Manafort had no intention of cooperating with Mueller, so it’s possible could admit guilt without providing information to investigators. Manafort is pleading guilty to two crimes of the seven he faced at trial — conspiring to defraud the U.S. and conspiring to obstruct justice. He admits to funneling millions of dollars in payments into offshore accounts to conceal his income from the IRS. “Manafort cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes,” says a federal filing. Manafort has fought vociferously but unsuccessfully against Mueller’s probe. The 69-year-old political consultant was convicted last month in a Virginia federal court on charges of bank and tax fraud.

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