Paul Manafort faces additional charges ahead of hearing

15 Septembre, 2018, 03:21 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI  AFP

Manafort was instrumental to President Donald Trump's securing the GOP nomination in 2016 and served on his campaign until August of that year.

Friday's announcement was a political blow to Trump's presidency ahead of November 6 congressional elections that will determine whether or not Republicans keep control of Congress.

On another conspiracy-related front, as Natasha Bertrand points out today, Manafort might be in a good position to shed light on what exactly former Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos - who has testified as part of his own plea deal that he learned that Russian Federation had stolen dirt on Clinton in the form of "thousands of emails" - might have told campaign higher ups about this at the time, another big unknown.

The White House distanced Trump from the man who helped get him elected in November 2016 against the odds in a bitterly contested campaign in which he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The White House said it had no comment about the news and referred reporters to the president's outside legal team. "It is totally unrelated". Prosecutors dropped five other charges that included lobbying violations and money laundering.

That was a reference to his former fixer Cohen, who struck a plea deal that saw him admit an illegal pay-off to porn star Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford.

Information submitted to court by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on Friday indicate seven charges in a previous indictment against Manafort were reduced to two.

The charges in the information say that Manafort will have to forfeit property that was derived from or traceable to his offenses. Manafort was found guilty by a Virginia jury last month of multiple financial crimes.

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

In court on Friday, Manafort stood stock still before the judge, answering her questions with single words in a low tone, or sat at the defence table. I think it's pretty clear if they were going to get anything from him, they'd have gotten it already.

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Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel's Russian Federation probe and pleaded guilty to two federal crimes as part of Friday's plea deal. Gates may have been a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

Not only did Manafort plead guilty, he also entered an agreement to cooperate with Muellers Avengers of prosecutors, scoring a lighter sentence for spilling all the tea he knows. The investigation has exposed the inner workings of the Russian influence campaign against American elections, a detailed and elaborate scheme by Manafort and Gates to hide money made through foreign lobbying work from the US government and multiple instances of people later lying to investigators about their behavior.

Mueller told Trump's attorneys in March he was continuing to investigate the Republican president but did not consider him a criminal target "at this point", the Washington Post reported in early April.

Moscow has denied interfering in the 2016 election and Mr Trump has said there was no collusion.

But all of Manafort's crimes were Russia-related.

Neither of the cases against Manafort relates to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the central issue in the special counsel's investigation. What did Trump and Manafort discuss about this in the interim? Both charges are related to his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. The president has not said whether he would do so.

There's been plenty of speculation that Manafort could be rescued by a presidential pardon.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissman said in court Friday that Manafort had struck a "cooperation agreement".

"It's tough day for Mr. Manafort but he's accepted responsibility. He did so knowingly, intentionally and willfully", Weissmann said.

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