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Manafort expected to plead guilty before new trial

Manafort expected to plead guilty before new trial”

Paul Manafort signalled Friday he intends to plead guilty ahead of a second trial in the U.S.as prosecutors filed new charging documents against Donald Trump's former campaign chairman.

The new court filing indicates that prosecutors have taken a number of the earlier charges against Manafort, including a money laundering charge that could, on its own, bring a 20-year sentence, and folded them into two charges that would each yield five-year sentences.

Court filings show that Manafort has agreed to plead guilty in special counsel Robert Mueller's probe.

As part of the deal, Manafort, 69, could be required to cooperate with Mueller's probe into Russia's role in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian Federation in the 2016 US presidential election.

The plea would avoid a trial related to Manafort's alleged lobbying and consulting work on behalf of pro-Russian political parties in Ukraine.

A juror in the Virginia case said she discounted testimony from Gates but found the documents that prosecutors introduced to be "overwhelming" in favor of conviction.

Judge TS Ellis declared a mistrial on 10 other charges after the jury failed to reach a verdict.

Prosecutors say that Manafort directed a large scale lobbying operation in the U.S. for Ukrainian interests without registering with the Justice Department as required by the federal Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.

The details of the case have been laid out before.

If Manafort were to cooperate with Mueller, that could provide investigators new evidence or leads to chase; a guilty plea, however, would prevent weeks worth of headlines about the trial in the month before congressional elections.

Asked by reporters at the White House if he would consider a pardon if Manafort is convicted, Trump said last month: "I don't talk about that".

Another approach would be for Manafort to plead guilty without cooperating in hopes of a presidential pardon.

Manafort was accused of concealing from the IRS tens of millions of dollars in proceeds from his Ukrainian patrons and conspiring to launder that money through offshore accounts in Cyprus and elsewhere.



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