Mueller team: Manafort agrees to plead guilty

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, agrees to plea deal with Mueller's team, the special counsel's office says.

Posted: Sep 15, 2018 6:48 PM
Updated: Sep 15, 2018 7:13 PM

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 will plead 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." The scope of the cooperation was not immediately clear.

President Donald Trump is not mentioned in Friday's filing, nor is Manafort's role in his campaign.

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."

Manafort had proffered information to the government already, Weissmann said in court.

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.

The White House has distanced itself from Manafort and downplayed his time leading the Trump campaign. But but last month, Trump expressed sympathy for him.

"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!"

In their filing, prosecutors describe Manafort's scheme to take in more than $60 million from pro-Russian Ukrainians and launder that money to avoid paying taxes. He appears to admit to the allegations he faced in both Virginia federal court and DC district court, describing his use of offshore bank accounts to move the money, deceive his accountants and bookkeeper and then spend the money on lavish purchases and real estate.

He also will admit to lying to banks about his assets to gain new loans as a way to supplement his income, according to the filing.

"Manafort cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes," the filing states, adding that in order to commit the crimes, he relied on help from both his longtime deputy Rick Gates and the Russian Konstantin Kilimnik.

Jury selection was set to begin next week

Friday's plea deal comes just three days ahead of when jury selection for his second trial was set to begin.

As part of the run-up to the second trial, Manafort's lawyers filed hundreds of pages in court to fight prosecutors' allegations -- having brought two appeals unsuccessfully -- and his legal fees mounted to more than $1 million, according to two people familiar with his case.

Manafort, Trump's top political operative from May to August 2016, has long been considered one of the bigger fish for Muller's office. In addition to the financial and lobbying charges against Manafort, the special counsel's team has said it's investigating allegations he colluded with Russia while working for Trump.

Over the past several months, Manafort's legal options slimmed as the special counsel notched several wins against him, including sending him to jail, securing several cooperators and gaining convictions.

Manafort's case marked the first indictment in Mueller's investigation. The allegations revealed last October reiterated a year of news reports that Manafort had secretly funneled income from Ukrainian lobbying contacts for years.

After his arrest in October, he was detained by the court in his Alexandria, Virginia, home for more than eight months.

Then in February, prosecutors filed new mortgage and tax fraud charges against him weeks after they discovered he was offering to secure his bail with homes tied up in his alleged mortgage fraud.

Prosecutors also gained the cooperation of his longtime associate Rick Gates, who had been indicted alongside him. Gates pleaded guilty in February to helping Manafort use bank accounts in Cyprus and Grenadines to hide millions they had made while lobbying for Ukrainian politicians. Gates testified against Manafort in the Virginia trial, saying his former boss had directed him to commit the fraud.

The special counsel's office added a second potential cooperator against Manafort in late August when another lobbyist for the Ukrainians, Sam Patten, pleaded guilty to a foreign lobbying charge. Patten worked with Manafort's Russian associate Kilimnik through 2017 and admitted in court to illegally using a straw purchaser to buy Trump inaugural tickets for an oligarch.

Kilimnik is charged as a co-defendant in Manafort's DC criminal case, for the witness tampering accusation. In previous court filings, prosecutors allege he had ties to the Russian GRU, a military intelligence agency. Kilimnik has not appeared in court, though Manafort's plea Friday admits that he committed his crimes in conspiracy with both Gates and Kilimnik.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

West Lafayette
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 38°
Kokomo
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 40°
Rensselaer
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 37°
Fowler
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 37°
Williamsport
Overcast
38° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 32°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 39°
Frankfort
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 39°
Delphi
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 38°
Monticello
Overcast
39° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 39°
Logansport
Overcast
39° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 39°
Chilly and cloudy Tuesday
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 164581

Reported Deaths: 4143
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion26055792
Lake14436358
St. Joseph9606168
Elkhart9271138
Allen8647231
Hamilton6400115
Vanderburgh617162
Tippecanoe396715
Porter347550
Hendricks3418134
Monroe335638
Johnson3286130
Delaware311575
Clark306263
Vigo275340
Madison250896
LaPorte239261
Cass229724
Warrick205065
Kosciusko201127
Floyd187468
Howard169466
Bartholomew147958
Marshall147428
Dubois146426
Wayne142031
Grant133539
Henry133030
Boone129150
Hancock124744
Noble122935
Jackson121018
Dearborn103128
Morgan100340
Lawrence96838
Gibson94412
Clinton92416
Daviess92334
Shelby90632
LaGrange82815
Knox81810
Harrison81024
Posey7767
Putnam77616
Fayette76719
DeKalb76011
Jasper6885
Miami6715
Steuben6608
Montgomery63122
White62316
Greene57838
Adams5607
Scott55413
Decatur52839
Ripley4838
Whitley4836
Clay4617
Sullivan45714
Wells45611
Huntington4455
Starke4438
Wabash4439
Orange42425
Spencer4176
Randolph39210
Jennings38713
Washington3873
Franklin38325
Fulton3785
Perry36914
Jefferson3655
Pike35718
Carroll34313
Jay3386
Fountain3293
Tipton28423
Vermillion2721
Parke2564
Rush2464
Blackford2394
Newton23711
Owen2151
Martin2050
Pulaski1783
Crawford1631
Brown1473
Ohio1337
Union1140
Benton1130
Switzerland980
Warren911
Unassigned0236

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events