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Trump former campaign head to help Russian Federation inquiry

15 September 2018

As part of his deal, the government plans to seize four properties, including a almost US$2 million house in Arlington, Virginia, owned by one of Manafort's daughters.

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

He will also be cooperating with the special counsel in its Russian Federation investigation, prosecutor Andrew Weissman told the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Friday.

The agreement doesn't specify what if anything prosecutors hope to receive about Trump, but Manafort could be well-positioned to provide key insight for investigators working to establish whether the campaign coordinated with Russian Federation. Mueller was authorized to look into matters that arose from the Russian Federation investigation, leading to the charges against Manafort, which are not related to the Trump campaign or to Russian Federation.

Manafort, convicted by a Virginia jury last month on bank and tax fraud charges, was due to go on trial a second time on related charges in Washington.

The White House says Manafort's decision to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller is "totally unrelated" to President Donald Trump.

Writing in the Atlantic, Franklin Foer, who has dived deeply into Manafort's past career , says that he never put much stock in the rumors swirling around the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, but that Manafort may be able to shed light on the shadowy activities of figures such as Roger Stone: "Manafort's friendship with Stone traces back to the 1970s, when Manafort managed Stone's campaign to run the Young Republicans group".

In court on Friday, Manafort stood stock still before the judge, answering her questions with single words in a low tone, or sat at the defence table.

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Friday's move gives special counsel Robert Mueller another successful conviction while allowing Manafort to avoid facing another costly public trial in Washington.

Prosecutor Andrew Weissman said in court Friday that Manafort had struck a "cooperation agreement".

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement after the deal was announced.

Manafort pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24.

Manafort's legal team blamed most of his problems on former business partner Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty in February and testified against Manafort in Virginia.

Manafort is shown at the Republican convention in Cleveland behind Donald Trump on July 21, 2016.

Manafort, 69, earned tens of millions of dollars lobbying for foreign governments and spent that money freely, including on a $15,000 ostrich coat, landscaping and real estate. He did not elaborate on the agreement.

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Manafort had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty.

Manafort's second trial would have been related to Ukrainian political consulting work, including failing to register as a foreign agent.

As part of the lobbying campaign, Manafort admitted to hiring four former European heads of state and senior officials, including a former Austrian chancellor, an Italian prime minister, and a Polish president.

Another danger for Trump is that the Manafort deal will prompt others to sing to Mueller. CNN is reporting that Manafort has already given information to the Department of Justice (reminder that a report from earlier this year contained a nugget saying that Trump has told friends and aides that Manafort can incriminate him).

Although the precise nature of Manafort's cooperation remains unclear, reaction to the news on Friday was swift.

Prosecutors indicated Manafort will work with Mueller's team, which is examining potential collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government before the 2016 presidential election.

Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to two criminal charges on September 14 as part of a deal with federal prosecutors that concluded the second trial for the veteran political operative.

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Trump former campaign head to help Russian Federation inquiry