Paul Manafort, the man who ran Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, pleaded guilty to “conspiracy against the United States” and “conspiracy to obstruct justice,” in a Washington, D.C. courtroom Friday.
Manafort struck a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, allowing him to avoid a second trial in the span of a few months. Manafort was already convicted on eight counts related to tax fraud by a Virginia jury last month.
Part of the deal, CNBC reports, is a 17-page cooperation agreement with Mueller, who is leading the investigation into the Trump campaign’s interaction with Russia and possible cover-up.
The new charging document shows that Manafort’s criminal activity spanned from 2006 through 2018, which includes the time before, during, and after his stint running Trump’s presidential campaign. Manafort, who kept a residence in Trump Tower, was also actively involved in Trump’s transition team and has close ties to Mike Pence.
The conspiracy against the United States charges are related to a litany of criminal activity including money laundering, tax fraud, and lying to the Department of Justice. The obstruction of justice charge relates to Manafort’s attempt to tamper with a witness while he was imprisoned and awaiting trial.
The plea deal requires Manafort to forfeit property he obtained through illicit financial activities.
The charges in the new document replace the original charges against Manafort.
“The new charges mean that prosecutors have agreed to drop five counts, including money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent and making false statements,” reports Politico. “Manafort appears set to admit to those allegations as part of the umbrella conspiracy-against-the-U.S. charge, but the individual charges and the potential prison time they carry are being dismissed.”
One of the documents in the plea deal makes a passing reference to one sitting member of Congress seeking re-election, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). Rohrabacher described Manafort as “an old friend,” and is widely known for his pro-Russia views, going so far as to call U.S. intelligence agencies “liars” in response to allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
Manafort is one of several high-ranking Trump campaign officials to be charged with, or found guilty of, criminal activities based on efforts by Mueller. Several officials have also pleaded guilty.
Michael Flynn, a Trump campaign adviser and Trump’s first national security adviser, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Flynn is cooperating with Mueller’s investigation.
George Papadopoulos, a Trump foreign policy adviser, pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. Papadopoulos cooperated with the Mueller investigation, and was recently sentenced to prison.
Rick Gates, Trump’s deputy campaign chairman and longtime Manafort business associate, pleaded guilty to several charges in a plea deal which included cooperating with the Mueller investigation. Gates testified against Manafort at Manafort’s first trial.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer and “fixer,” pleaded guilty to eight felonies. In his guilty plea, Cohen implicated Trump in campaign finance violations relating to hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.
In building the case against Cohen, federal investigators gave immunity to longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, as well as longtime Trump associate David Pecker, CEO of American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer.
The Mueller investigation has also resulted in the indictment of multiple Russian nationals and entities related to efforts to influence the 2016 election.
Despite the overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing uncovered by Mueller, Trump regularly insults and dismisses the special counsel investigation. And despite his loud and repeated claims of innocence, Trump refuses to fully cooperate with Mueller and agree to an interview.
Published with permission of The American Independent.