Manafort cooperation could energize Mueller probe: legal experts

Larry Hoffman
September 15, 2018

As part of the deal, Mr Manafort, 69, could be required to cooperate with Mueller's probe into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow. Giuliani added that "the president did nothing wrong".

Weissman referred to Manafort's plea deal as a cooperation agreement in court Friday, which could jeopardize his chances of a presidential pardon.

For months, analysts, experts and political talking heads have speculated Trump could reward Manafort with a presidential pardon for holding out on a plea agreement - where he would be asked all sorts of questions about his dealings with the president on the 2016 campaign - and going to trial.

The White House says Manafort's decision to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller is "totally unrelated" to President Donald Trump.

Manafort had other charges dropped but he could still go to prison, marking a steep fall from grace for a multi-millionaire who was often at Trump's side as the Republican candidate took USA politics by storm in 2016. According to NBC News, congressional investigators who are examining the meeting are "focused on determining whether it included any discussion of donations from Russian sources to either the Trump campaign or the Republican Party".

It's been reported that two weeks before Trump accepted the GOP nomination, Paul Manafort offered "private briefings" on the state of the 2016 election to Russian Oligarch, and close Putin ally, Oleg Deripaska (who also has ties to Kilimnik).

The conspiracy to obstruct justice charge is based on allegations of alleged witness tampering after Manafort was already initially charged with several crimes related to his work for the Ukrainian government.

"This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said. The 38-page information document is extraordinary in its scope, and it lays out detailed counter-arguments to Trump's "witch hunt!" tirade, and the cost of the investigation is of no concern now that Manafort's wardrobe full of ostrich jackets could pay for a second Mueller investigation all on their own.

Manafort cooperation could energize Mueller probe: legal experts
Manafort cooperation could energize Mueller probe: legal experts

At the time of Mr 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".

"Manafort essentially took over the campaign as of mid-April 2016 and was Trump's go-to man during a critical period of the campaign", De la Vega told the Guardian.

Manafort is the fifth Trump associate to plead guilty to felony charges during the Trump presidency. Instead, the new one declared, "Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign".

Manafort is expected to appear in a US district courtroom in Washington, D.C., later Friday morning. Regarding the Washington case, Manafort was accused of 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.

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

By striking an 11th-hour deal with Mueller, Manafort could be putting that potential pardon in jeopardy.

Manafort is expected to appear in court later Friday morning (local time).

The charges in the information say that Manafort will have to forfeit property that was derived from or traceable to his offenses. The judge in the District of Columbia case ordered his detention on June 15 after reviewing evidence (pdf) that Manafort attempted to tamper with witnesses and determining that the defendant could not be trusted to comply with the judicial process.

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