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Washington (CNN)Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department, including in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice due to attempts to tamper with witnesses, according to a court filing Friday.
Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the judge Manafort’s plea agreement is a “cooperation agreement,” and other charges will be dropped at sentencing at “or at the agreement of successful cooperation.”
Manafort had proffered information to the government already, Weissmann said in court.
The scope of the cooperation was not immediately clear. While President Donald Trump is not mentioned in Friday’s filing, nor is Manafort’s role in his campaign, the news of the cooperation comes as the President continued to lambast the Mueller investigation on Twitter this week.
In a statement to CNN after the news of Manafort’s cooperation, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated.”
Wearing a purple tie beneath his dark suit, Manafort looked glum as the hearing unfolded, standing next to his attorney, Richard Westling, with a court security officer standing immediately behind him. Manafort answered the judge’s questions about himself, his plea and rights he will waive, including his right to a trial.
“I do,” he said repeatedly, waiving each right.
Westling agreed in court that the mistried counts in Virginia will be dropped with Manafort’s admission of guilt to all his allegations. In DC, his seven criminal counts are rewritten as two.
Prosecutors will drop the five remaining charges in DC federal court against Manafort, including money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, violating federal foreign lobbying law and lying to the Department of Justice. But the court filing says Manafort admits to the actions.
Manafort had faced seven charges in Washington and faces another 10 possible charges in Virginia which had been declared in mistrial. It’s still not clear what will happen to those charges in Virginia federal court. He’s already been convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud crimes in the Virginia trial.
In recent days, as the Manafort plea talks were ongoing, the President’s legal team expressed confidence that if Manafort signed a cooperation agreement it wouldn’t have anything to do with the President, according to a source briefed on their thinking.
In a statement Friday, the President’s attorney Rudy Giuliani reiterated that confidence.
“Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: the President did nothing wrong,” said Giuliani.
It was the second version of the statement. The initial version, which was quickly revised, included “Paul Manafort will tell the truth” as part of the quote. The amended version removed the phrase.
“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family,” the President tweeted the week of Manafort’s conviction in his Virginia trial. “‘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 brave man!”
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
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