Manafort expected to plead guilty before new trial


Manafort expected to plead guilty before new trial

Paul Manafort has made a decision to plead guilty to charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and avoid a second criminal trial, but it's unclear whether he will cooperate with Mueller's inquiry into Russian election interference.

It is not clear whether any agreement with prosecutors would require Manafort to co-operate with special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation into possible co-ordination between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

The case was brought by Mueller's team, which is probing potential crimes related to the 2016 election. So far, Manafort has refused to turn on his former boss - unlike other Trump administration figures - and there has been speculation that he is waiting on a pardon from the president at some later date. Jury selection was due to start on Monday.

The trial included testimony for the prosecution from Manafort's longtime aide, Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities and agreed to co-operate with the special counsel probe.

The planned plea, if accepted by a judge, would short-circuit his second trial scheduled to begin later this month in the District of Columbia on charges of money laundering and lobbying violations.

It's unclear how the possible deal might affect Manafort's pursuit of a pardon from President Donald Trump.

A second case was opened in Virginia earlier this year on related charges that ended with a jury finding Manafort guilty on eight counts out of an 18-count indictment, facing a maximum of 80 years behind the bars, though under sentencing guidelines the term is likely to be closer to seven years.

And during his Virginia trial in August, Manafort's lawyers spent considerable time painting Mr Gates as a liar, embezzler, philanderer and turncoat who would say anything to get a lighter prison sentence.

The allegations do not involve his work with the Trump presidential 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.

Manafort had the option of rolling all the charges he faced into one trial, but chose not to.