Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort expected to plead guilty

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Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, pleaded guilty Friday and said he will cooperate with prosecutors - in a plea deal in a money-laundering and foreign lobbying case.

If true, that would be quite a development because as Politico reported, "Many Trump aides and advisers have said they believe the president is likely to grant Manafort a pardon on all the charges, which Trump has suggested amounted to prosecutorial overkill aimed at persuading Manafort to implicate Trump in wrongdoing in connection with the ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation".

On Thursday, CBS News reported that Manafort had reached the deal with federal prosecutors to avoid his upcoming trial on charges related to his foreign lobbying work.

Manafort was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia and faces 7 to 10 years in prison in that case.

The longtime lobbyist resigned from his position as campaign chairman in August 2016 amid increasing scrutiny of his work on behalf of a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine.

"This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign".

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

Under the terms of the deal, Manafort was allowed to plead guilty to just two conspiracy counts, though the crimes he admitted cover the same conduct alleged in an indictment past year.

In a statement Friday, the President's attorney Rudy Giuliani reiterated that confidence. In addition to the financial and lobbying charges against Manafort, the special counsel's team has said it's investigating allegations he colluded with Russian Federation while working for Trump.

Earlier this year, Manafort derided Gates, his former business partner, for striking a deal with prosecutors that provided him leniency in exchange for testimony against his former partner.

The plea deal precludes the need for the second trial, sparing Manafort the steep legal fees of a second round of prosecution.

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". He also made sure to point out that the case was about conduct that goes back many years. "It shows you've admitted your guilt", he said before the deal was announced. Manafort also hid the millions of dollars he made from that work from the USA government and asked witnesses to lie to the jury in the trial he has now avoided.

Manafort is still subject to whatever sentence is imposed in the Virginia trial.

The White House had previously distanced itself from Manafort and downplayed his time leading the Trump campaign. Gates testified against Manafort in the Virginia trial, saying his former boss had directed him to commit the fraud. "Mueller would not have given him a deal unless Manafort was able to help Mueller make a case against someone else or significantly strengthen an existing case".

"I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence", Manafort said in February. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts.

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