Paul Manafort expected to plead guilty, avoid second trial

Paul Manafort

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Prosecutors have filed new charging documents against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, signaling he may plead guilty ahead of a second trial next week.

In addition to the witness tampering counts, Manafort is formally charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, conspiring to launder money and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department about the nature of his work.

In the trial scheduled in Washington, Manafort faces charges of conspiring against the United States, money laundering, failing to register as a lobbyist, making false statements and conspiring to obstruct justice by trying to influence witnesses.

Manafort is expected in federal court at 11 a.m., where details of the agreement will be revealed.

Another approach would be for Manafort to plead guilty without cooperating in hopes of a presidential pardon.

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People familiar with the plea discussions have previously said that Manafort has no intention of cooperating with Mueller, so it's possible any prospective agreement could allow him to admit guilt without providing information to investigators.

Manafort was facing seven counts of foreign lobbying violations and witness tampering in a trial set to begin later this month.

Manafort's decision could be a blow to Trump, who last month praised his former aide for not entering into an agreement with prosecutors, as the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had.

The deal is the culmination of a federal investigation that has kept Manafort's name in the headlines for more than a year, from summer 2017, when the FBI raided his residence in Virginia, through last October, when the charges first dropped, and into February, when his former business deputy and co-defendant Rick Gates reached his own plea deal with Mueller. Trump has denied colluding with the Russians and the Russians have denied interfering. But Manafort has not been charged with anything related to the campaign. Yanukovych was ousted from the country in 2014, and Manafort's consulting work in Ukraine dried up, according to evidence presented by the prosecutors in the Virginia trial.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now representing Trump in the Russian Federation probe, told Reuters on Friday that a guilty plea to avoid a second trial would not crush Manafort's chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon. "It shows you've admitted your guilt", he said on Friday before a deal was announced.

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