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Manafort Avoids Second Trial with Plea Deal
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14 Sep 2018 11:53 AM EST

 

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Paul Manafort (Image source: Screenshot)

 

Paul Manafort appears to finally know when to quit while he's ahead, or rather how to play nice to make sure he doesn't fall further behind. Having already been found guilty last month in his first trial, he is expected to enter a guilty plea in federal court on Friday morning relating to his second set of charges and avoiding a second trial. 

Trump's former campaign chairman during the summer of 2016 was convicted on eight charges of bank and tax fraud, while the jury was deadlocked on 10 more charges, reportedly because of only one person on the jury. He hasn't been sentenced yet but has been in jail for awhile, though, after he was accused of witness tampering.

 

He was looking at more charges for a trial that was to start this month in Washington D.C. on charges of money laundering and lobbying violations. If the judge accepts his guilty plea for his second set of charges, he'll avoid that second trial. 

It's not known at this point if Manafort has, as part of his plea deal, agreed to provide information to special counsel Robert Mueller for his Russia investigation dealing with the possible collusion on the part of Trump's 2016 campaign.

 

But people familiar with the plea negotiations up to this point have said he had no intention of cooperating with Mueller. So far, though, everyone in this investigation who has received a plea deal has cooperated with the special counsel. 

A criminal information document was filed in advance of Friday's plea. It shows that Manafort will plead guilty to two of the seven crimes he was charged with: conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice.

 

According to the document, he plans to admit to funneling millions of dollars through offshore accounts to hide his income from the IRS. "Manafort cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes," it reads. 

The document also lays out how Manafort lobbied the U.S. government to gain a favorable opinion for Ukraine. He worked in 2012 to damage the reputation of Yulia Tymoshenko, the political rival of his client, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich.

 

"Manafort stated that 'my goal is to plant some stink on Tymo,' " according to the court document. When he made that remark he was trying to get the news outlets in the U.S. to publish stories that Tymoshenko had paid for the murder of a Ukrainian official. 

In addition, Trump's campaign chairman "orchestrated a scheme to have, as he wrote in contemporaneous communication, 'Obama jews' put pressure on the administration to disavow Tymoshenko and support Yanukovych."

 

Manafort also spread stories the in the U.S. that a senior American Cabinet official "was supporting anti-Semitism because the official supported Tymoshenko" and at one point, according to the document, Manafort wrote to an associate, "I have someone pushing it on the NY Post. Bada bing bada boom." 

On the other end of this plea deal, the government will seize four properties, including a house in Arlington, Virginia, worth $2 million and owned by one of Manafort's daughters. He'll also forfeit four financial accounts and a life insurance policy.

 

Jury selection for the second trial was to begin on Monday with opening statements to start a week later. This is still on the books until Manafort formally cops a guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson who needs to approve the plea. 

It will prove interesting how Donald Trump will react to this news. Last month, after Manafort's first trial, the president tweeted that the prosecutors "applied tremendous pressure on him and ... he refused to 'break' — make up stories in order to get a 'deal." He added, "Such respect for a brave man."

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