Manafort pleads guilty ahead of new trial, to cooperate with Mueller

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US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed on Friday (Saturday NZ Time) to cooperate with the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation as he pleaded guilty to federal charges and avoided a second trial that could have exposed him to even greater punishment. In Washington, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that based on the guidelines, which are determined based on factors such as Manafort's involvement and the nature of the crimes, he faces a range of 210 to 262 months and a $400,000 fine.

The White House says Manafort's decision to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller is "totally unrelated" to President Donald Trump.

Jury selection in Washington was due to begin on Monday in Manafort's second trial on charges including conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering. The former Trump campaign chairman, whom the president praised for refusing to "break" like Michael Cohen recently, has apparently broken at the prospect of being tried for a bunch more crimes after he was convicted of a bunch of crimes last month. That work predated Manafort's tenure on the Trump campaign.

The president's former personal lawyer has separately pleaded guilty in NY.

Manafort pleads guilty in cooperation deal;...

Westling agreed in court that the mistried counts in Virginia will be dropped with Manafort's admission of guilt to all his allegations.

National security reporter and legal analyst Marcy Wheeler said she believes that Mueller made this deal "pardon proof in a couple ways that are going to become obvious in the near future".

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Manafort had aggressively fought the charges against him and taken shots at his co-defendant, Rick Gates, who cut a deal with prosecutors earlier this year that included a cooperation agreement.

Manafort "coordinated with a senior Israeli government official" to publicize the story, Mueller charged, seeking to convince the administration that "the Jewish community will take this out on Obama in the [2012 presidential] election if he does nothing". Mueller has also gotten guilty pleas from former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, while Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in a case referred to the Southern District of NY by Mueller's office.

The move allows him to avoid a second criminal trial and ends Manafort's more than yearlong fight against investigators in the Russian Federation investigation.

In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24 before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. "This is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that".

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement after the deal was announced.

During Manafort's Virginia trial, the president had spoken spoke warmly of him.

After his arrest in October, he was detained by the court in his Alexandria, Virginia, home for more than eight months. We also asked Bill Thomas, another attorney and former federal prosecutor, about the effect of a possible pardon, and he said it wouldn't do anything to stop Manafort from testifying. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts.

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