Paul Manafort To Plead Guilty, Avoid A Second Trial

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Paul Manafort will plead guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has struck a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller and will plead guilty to federal charges Friday morning, according to The Washington Post.

The planned plea, if accepted by a judge, would short-circuit his second trial scheduled to begin this month in the District on charges of money laundering and lobbying violations. He is expected to enter his guilty plea this morning in federal court.

It was not immediately clear if, as part of the plea deal, Manafort would cooperate and provide any information to the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Manafort will plead guilty to two of the seven charges he faced at trial: conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice.

The document indicates he will admit to funneling millions of dollars in payments into offshore accounts to conceal his income from the Internal Revenue Service. “Manafort cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes,” the document states.

The court filing also offers a more detailed look at the ways Manafort pursued his work for Ukrainian political figures via influence campaigns in the United States.

In 2012, Manafort set out to help his client, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, by tarnishing the reputation of Yanukovych’s political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, according to the document.

“Manafort stated that ‘[m]y goal is to plant some stink on Tymo’,” according to the document. At the time he made that statement, he was trying to get U.S. news outlets to print stories that Tymoshenko had paid for the murder of a Ukrainian official, according to the criminal information.

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.

Manafort still faces sentencing in Virginia, after being convicted on eight of 18 charges, though law enforcement officials suspect the former Trump associate might be counting on a presidential pardon.

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