Paul Manafort expected to plea to new charges filed by special counsel

Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel

Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel

Paul Manafort signaled on Friday that he intends to plead guilty ahead of a second trial as prosecutors filed new charging documents against the former Trump campaign chairman.

The move avoids a potentially explosive trial that could embarrass President Trump seven weeks before hotly contested national elections.

Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation, which has cast a shadow over Trump's presidency.

Manafort, in a trial set to begin September 24 in federal court in Washington, is facing seven counts of foreign lobbying violations and witness tampering.

The trial included testimony for the prosecution from Manafort's longtime aide, Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities and agreed to co-operate with the special counsel probe.

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It's unclear which charges Manafort is pleading guilty to. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.

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. 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.

For months, Manafort had refused to turn on his former boss, unlike other Trump administration figures. Such filings typically indicate that a deal has been reached.

The special counsel's office issued the following statement regarding the plea: "Court has scheduled an arraignment and plea agreement hearing today for US v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., 69, of Alexandria, Va., at 11 a.m". He was convicted earlier this summer on eight out of 18 counts in a bank and tax fraud trial in Virginia federal court. Kilimnik was charged alongside Manafort in June with conspiracy to obstruct justice, but is unlikely to see his day in court because he is Russian and therefore out of reach of USA prosecutors. Either he has offered some form of cooperation, one source familiar with the case explained, or the government has concluded that it has hit him with a sufficient number of charges and following through with a second trial is not worth the time and expense. "It shows you've admitted your guilt", he said on Friday before a deal was announced.

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