Trump ex-campaign chief Manafort 'strikes plea deal'

Trump ex-campaign chief Manafort 'strikes plea deal'

Trump ex-campaign chief Manafort 'strikes plea deal'

Manafort on Friday is expected to plead guilty to assorted charges as part of a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

If he pleads guilty, he would avoid this trial.

The special counsel's office issued the following statement regarding the plea: "Court has scheduled an arraignment and plea agreement hearing today for USA v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., 69, of Alexandria, Va., at 11 a.m".

In pleading guilty, Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, would admit he broke the law - a concession he refused to make throughout his Alexandria trial and since he was charged almost a year ago in Washington.

It comes three weeks after Paul Manafort was convicted in a separate trial on eight counts related to financial fraud, and as the Mueller investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation increasingly pressures the White House. Jackson's ruling clears the way for Manafort to be tried later this month on several felony charges related to his lobbying and political consulting work on behalf of Ukrainian political interests. The court then changed Manafort's scheduled appearance later in the morning to an arraignment and plea hearing.

Paul Manafort (centre) is heckled as he walks into court.

Prosecutors with Mueller's office filed new criminal charges Friday in the case.

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Manafort has already been convicted of financial fraud in Virginia.

If Manafort decides to cooperate with Mueller's probe, that would deal a setback to Trump ahead of congressional elections on November 6.

A jury found Manafort guilty of eight counts of tax evasion, failing to report foreign bank accounts and bank fraud.

Judge TS Ellis declared a mistrial on 10 other charges after the jury failed to reach a verdict. The second count, for conspiracy to obstruct justice, concerns attempts to tamper with witnesses related to Manafort's foreign lobbying.

Manafort has aggressively fought the charges against him and taken shots at his co-defendant, Rick Gates, who cut a deal with prosecutors earlier this year that included a cooperation agreement.

Another approach would be for Manafort to plead guilty without cooperating in hopes of a presidential pardon. Even after his indictment last October, though, prosecutors say he continued to commit crimes by tampering with witnesses.

Manafort's guilty plea would come with a detailed admission of wrongdoing, which could shed light on his interactions with oligarchs from Ukraine and Russian Federation.

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