Trump’s ex-campaign chairman has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and will cooperate with investigation into Russian interference in US election
Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chair, has pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, in a dramatic development could spell legal trouble for the president.
Mueller’s team disclosed new details about Manafort’s work as an unregistered lobbyist in the US for Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president deposed in a popular uprising in February 2014, Jon Swaine reports.
Manafort allegedly orchestrated a plan to smear a Yanukovych domestic rival, Yulia Tymoshenko, by disseminating “with no fingerprints” allegations that Tymoshenko had paid for the murder of a Ukrainian official. “My goal is to plant some stink on Tymo,” Manafort wrote in a message.
He also allegedly schemed to have “Obama Jews” exert pressure on Barack Obama’s administration to support Yanukovych and disavow Tymoshenko, and conspired with an Israeli government official to spread allegations linking Tymoshenko to antisemitism. Manafort allegedly wrote in one message to an unidentified associate: “I have someone pushing it on the NY Post. Bada bing bada boom.”
Manafort is only the latest Trump campaign advisor to admit guilt since the election.
The list includes his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, campaign aide Rick Gates and former campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos.
Here’s THE (17-page) DEAL: Manafort must cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly”.
Manafort must cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly”. That cooperation “will include but is not limited to” the following: pic.twitter.com/i5YsYx1Xwf
Senator Mark Warner, who is the vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Manafort’s guilty plea “demonstrates that the President’s 2016 campaign manager conducted illegal activity in conspiracy with Russian-backed entities and was beholden to Kremlin-linked officials”.
The guilty plea also underscores the seriousness of this investigation. The Special Counsel must be permitted to follow the facts wherever and however high they might lead, because in the United States of America no one is above the law. Any attempt by the President to pardon Mr. Manafort or otherwise interfere in this investigation would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress.”
Though we do not know what prosecutors may want from Manafort, our reporter, Tom McCarthy, reminds us that he was present for a handful of campaign interactions with Russian operatives.
Manafort attended a June 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump tower set up by Donald Trump Jr. He received emails from former Trump aide George Papadopoulos, who had been informed that Russia had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. He was campaign chairman when Wikileaks began publishing emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee by hackers that US intelligence has linked to Russia. He may have knowledge of Trump’s business relationships in Russia. He may have been party to campaign conversations about how to handle news of the Russia investigation.
Manafort essentially took over the campaign as of mid-April 2016 and was Trump’s go-to man during a critical period of the campaign,” de la Vega told the Guardian. “Reporting shows that Trump called Manafort 20 times a day, and, of course, Manafort knows the whole story of the Trump Tower meeting and events before and after.
Paul Manafort’s cooperation with Robert Mueller “could spell serious trouble for Trump,” the Guardian’s Tom McCarthy reports.
Manafort’s guilty plea – with cooperation! – is an absolute nightmare for Trump, and his family,” former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega told the Guardian in an email.
“Hurricane Paul hits Washington,” said Randall Eliason, a professor and former prosecutor.
“This is an existential threat to the Presidency,” tweeted Mitchell Epner, a former assistant US attorney.
Former federal prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst Renato Mariotti breaks down what Manafort’s cooperation might mean.
1/ Today prosecutors with Mueller’s office announced that Manafort’s plea agreement in the D.C. case was a “cooperation” agreement. That is big news—Manafort has agreed to tell Mueller everything he knows about potential criminal activity by anyone.
Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking member of the House Intelligence committee says he hopes Manafort’s cooperations includes “testifying before congressional committees”.
He continues: “The evidence presented by the Special Counsel’s office is overwhelming and should put to rest any idea that Manafort is even remotely deserving of a pardon. If the President moves to pardon Manafort or impede his cooperation in any way, it would constitute an attempt to obstruct justice. Mueller and his team continue to make progress and must be allowed to finish their investigation without interference by President Trump or his Republican allies in Congress.”
Manafort had a “successful meeting” with investigators and offered “valuable” information before a plea agreement was struck
LATEST: Prosecutors revealed in court this morning that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort completed a successful meeting with investigators in which he offered them information they consider valuable. https://t.co/4XAOQ9T8R4 pic.twitter.com/6zs3oKBsBz
Trump meanwhile is fastidiously tweeting about Hurricane Florence. This could change but for now his Twitter feed is filled with messages urging Americans in the storms path take any and all precautions necessary to stay safe.
All the president’s men are weighing in on the Manafort plea deal.
Roger Stone weighs in on the Manafort plea… pic.twitter.com/S8eReth4Nm
“Mr. Manafort has accepted responsibility and he wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life,” Kevin Downing, one of Manafort’s attorneys told reporters, speaking outside the courthouse.
“He’s accepted responsibility and this is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that.”
After the 11am hearing, Manafort will return to a jail in Alexandria, Virginia, where he has been held since June. A judge revoked his bail after he was indicted on witness tampering.
NPR has this bit of color on the famously-stylish Manafort’s predicament:
Behind bars in the Alexandria, Va., detention center, Manafort’s dark hair has sprouted patches of gray. During his Virginia trial, he sometimes refused to wear socks because he didn’t like the look of the white jail-issued socks with his dark footwear.
Manafort is facing up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to two conspiracy charges.
BREAKING: Judge says Manafort faces possible 10 years in prison after agreeing to plead guilty to two criminal counts pic.twitter.com/eUw0R5gyVF
The Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett offers some context as reporters and experts analyze what Manafort’s cooperation means for Mueller’s Russia investigation and the president.
Remember: flippers don’t get to pick who they cooperate against, and who they don’t. The deal is to give up what they know about possible crimes, by whomever. That also doesn’t mean a flipper HAS incriminating info on everyone, but what they have, they have to tell
“I’m guilty.” With those words, Paul Manafort formally entered into a plea deal and cooperation agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller on Friday.
The plea came after what Judge Amy Berman Jackson described as “the longest and most detailed summary of charges” that she had ever heard in her courtroom, read aloud by prosecutor Andrew Weissmann in a methodical monotone.
In a statement to reporters, the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, said:
Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign,” he said in a statement. “The reason: the president did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth.
NEW: Rudy Giuliani has changed his statement on Manafort.
He first said Manafort will tell the truth. Now he omits that from the statement.
From reporters in the courtroom: At 12:11, Manafort plead guilty to conspiracy charges, including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
More drips from inside the court room:
Judge Amy Berman Jackson says Manafort’s cooperation agreement includes:
-interviews and briefings he’ll give to the special counsel’s office
– turning over documents
– testifying in other proceedings
There are still many outstanding questions about what the deal entails and how – if at all – it impacts the president.
Here’s what we know so far.
This didn’t age well, as it turns out https://t.co/J0HgHOjKKS
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has released a brief statement on Manafort’s deal, per a pool report:
“This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated.”
Federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the court that Manafort has agreed to cooperate apparently in exchange for the government dropping the remaining charges against him.
Andrew Weissmann discloses cooperation agreement, saying remaining charges will either be dropped at sentencing or at end of his cooperation.
This is a stunning development in this investigation
!!! Prosecutor says that Manafort is cooperating with special counsel investigation !!!
Some details from inside the court room:
Manafort is now answering the judge’s questions about himself, his plea and rights he will waive, including right to a trial.
“I do,” he says repeatedly, waving each right.
He is wearing a purple tie beneath his dark suit.
Defense attorney Richard Westling agreed in court that the mistried counts in Virginia will be dropped with Manafort’s admission of guilt to all his allegations. @kpolantz
While we await Manafort’s appearance in court, here are some tidbits from today’s court filing.
When @TheJusticeDept confronted MANAFORT & GATES about their unregistered foreign lobbying back in 2016, they told a series of brazen lies to DOJ’s FARA unit, per MUELLER, who methodically chronicled the lies here: pic.twitter.com/QQMDQN1ga7
After Manafort was convicted last month – moments apart from when Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations – the president lavished praise on his former campaign chair for refusing to “break” and cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating Russia inference in the 2016 election.
I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “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!
The agreement brings to an end weeks of negotiations between Manafort and Mueller’s team, our reporter Jon Swaine writes.
A new document outlining charges against Manafort was filed by Mueller earlier on Friday. It said Manafort conspired to defraud the US through offences including money laundering and tax fraud, and conspired to obstruct justice by witness tampering.
The filing indicated that Manafort would admit to these charges to avoid being prosecuted for others in Washington DC this month. It also suggested that, in addition to any prison sentence he might receive, Manafort had agreed to forfeit homes in New York and Virginia, and funds from five bank accounts.
Hello and welcome to our live blog coverage of an appearance by Paul Manafort, the former Donald Trump campaign chairman, in district court in Washington DC. The office of special counsel Robert Mueller has announced it will be a “plea agreement hearing”.
It’s set to begin at 11am ET before US district judge Amy Berman Jackson at the DC federal courthouse on 3rd and Constitution.