Former Trump manager Manafort to plead guilty in Mueller probe: court documents

Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort has chose 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.

The charges do not involve Manafort's work for U.S. president Donald Trump.

A court filing Friday shows a plea hearing is set for later in the morning.

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The pressure on Manafort only grew after he was convicted last month in a Virginia trial on bank fraud and tax fraud charges brought by Mueller.

The charges are related to Manafort's Ukrainian political consulting work.

That posture drew plaudits from Trump, who praised his former campaign chairman for his unwillingness to cooperate with the special counsel.

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Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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.

If he pleads guilty, he would avoid this trial. Either he has offered some form of cooperation, one source familiar with the case explained, or the government has concluded that it has hit him with a sufficient number of charges and following through with a second trial is not worth the time and expense. Manafort was lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russian party in Ukraine, the Party of Regions, and was credited of resuscitating the career of its leader, Viktor Yanukovych, who won the presidency in 2010. The president agreed to wait at least until the investigation concludes, Giuliani has said. Manafort would be the fifth Trump aide to plead guilty in connection to the special counsel's probe. Even after his indictment last October, though, prosecutors say he continued to commit crimes by tampering with witnesses.

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Manafort has been in jail since June, when the judge in the D.C. case, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, threw him in pretrial detention for alleged witness tampering. Court papers filed in the case indicated that he could have faced between 15 and 19 and-a-half years in prison under federal guidelines.

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