Manafort agrees to plead guilty after deal with special counsel

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President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and witness tampering, court documents indicated on Friday.

The charges in his second trial were set to include money laundering, conspiring to defraud the U.S., witness tampering and failing to register as a foreign agent.

The charges were contained in a criminal information document that can only be filed with a defendant's consent and typically signals a deal has been reached.

Jurors in Virginia last month found Manafort guilty, in a separate case, on two counts of bank fraud, five counts of tax fraud and one charge of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, giving special counsel Robert Mueller a victory in the first trial arising from his investigation of Russia's role in the 2016 USA election. "In order to hide Ukraine payments from United States authorities, from approximately 2006 through at least 2016, MANAFORT, with the assistance of Gates and Kilimnik, laundered the money through scores of United States and foreign corporations, partnerships, and bank accounts".

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So far, lawmakers have not released the details of the agreement, and added that it is unclear if Manafort will cooperate with prosecutors.

Manafort's cooperation would be viewed as significant to Mueller's investigation, given his work on the Trump campaign. In an April court filing, Mueller's prosecutors defended their pursuit of Manafort, even though he wasn't charged with crimes related to Russian election interference. He was convicted earlier this summer on eight out of 18 counts in a bank and tax fraud trial in Virginia federal court.

And during his Virginia trial in August, Manafort's lawyers spent considerable time painting Mr Gates as a liar, embezzler, philanderer and turncoat who would say anything to get a lighter prison sentence.

Manafort's second trial would have been related to Ukrainian political consulting work, including failing to register as a foreign agent.

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This, in turn, may endear him to President Trump, who has already called Manafort a "good man" who has been unfairly targeted by the Justice Department. Jurors deadlocked on ten other counts.

One of the potential witnesses against Manafort was Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty on August 31 to failing to register as a Ukrainian agent.

Manafort's guilty plea would come with a detailed admission of wrongdoing, which could shed light on his interactions with oligarchs from Ukraine and Russian Federation.

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