Monday, 24 September, 2018

What can Manafort tell Mueller? Adam Schiff offers some suggestions

Paul Manafort Modal Trigger Getty Images
| 15 September, 2018, 12:14

Manafort is due in federal court for what the Justice Department called "an arraignment and plea agreement hearing" on Friday morning, following the release of new charging documents against him.

The charges against Manafort are related to his Ukrainian consulting work - not Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which is the central issue in the special counsel's investigation. A jury found him guilty on eight counts of submitting false tax returns, failure to report foreign bank and financial accounts and bank fraud.

The breach clause of the plea deal is remarkably bare, and the government has retained the right to use anything Manafort says in his cooperation meetings against him if prosecutors decide to pull out of the agreement and try him.

In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted the Manafort case was unrelated to Trump, and Giuliani said, "Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign".

Pleading guilty has allowed Manafort to avoid a trial that was expected to last at least three weeks and posed the potential of adding years onto the seven to 10 years he is already facing under federal sentencing guidelines from his conviction in Virginia.

Now the special counsel's office can refocus on the central portion of its investigation - whether there was any co-ordination between the Russian government and the Trump team in 2016.

One of the potential witnesses against Manafort was Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty on August 31 to failing to register as a Ukrainian agent.


"(Trump), like the rest of us, will have to wait to see how damaging Manafort's cooperation will be", Wright said.

Over a 40-year career, Manafort redefined and expanded Washington's influence industry domestically and internationally, parlaying successful campaigns into lobbying opportunities. In exchange, Manafort was assured that he will spend no more than a decade in prison for the two charges, so long as he fully coöperates with Mueller.

Manafort's guilty plea would come with a detailed admission of wrongdoing, which could shed light on his interactions with oligarchs from Ukraine and Russian Federation.

Manafort, 69, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Washington on Friday to counts of conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice, becoming the most prominent former of Mr Trump's campaign officials to plead guilty in Mr Mueller's investigation.

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, is surrendering four properties and money from several bank accounts as a part of a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

Any light Manafort could shed on that meeting and other episodes could deepen the Mueller probe, legal experts said, increasing the pressure on Trump. Manafort pleaded guilty to those remaining 10 counts Friday as part of his plea agreement.

"He's accepted responsibility", Manafort's lawyer Kevin Downing, said. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obstruct justice against the United States and for money laundering, tax fraud, bank reporting and FARA foreign agent disclosure. The reason: "the President did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth". Today it comes courtesy of President Trump's former campaign manager. "Justice" took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal.' Such respect for a courageous man!"

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