Paul Manafort cooperating with investigators in Mueller probe

Paul Manafort and Robert Mueller

Paul Manafort will cooperate in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as part of a plea deal he reached Friday with federal prosecutors.

Manafort pleaded guilty to two counts – conspiracy and conspiracy to obstruct justice – in a Washington, DC, courtroom, where prosecutors said they reached a “cooperation agreement” with the longtime GOP operative.

In exchange, he’ll face no more than 10 years behind bars.

Clad in a dark suit and purple tie, the 69-year-old told Judge Amy Berman Jackson “I understand” when she advised him of the rights he was giving up — including the right to appeal — by pleading guilty.

Jackson said the agreement requires Manafort to cooperate “fully and truthfully” with Muller’s investigation and that he must take part in interviews and debriefings, provide documents and testify in future cases.

Manafort also agreed to forfeit several properties in the Hamptons, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Alexandria, Virginia, according to court filings. He’ll also give up funds in four bank accounts, as well as a life-insurance policy.

Last month, Manafort was convicted on eight of 18 charges of bank and tax fraud or concealing tens of millions of dollars in offshore accounts.

The Virginia jury deadlocked on 10 counts – which prosecutors said on Friday would be dismissed as part of the deal.

Jury selection was set to begin on Monday in Manafort’s second trial, which related to lobbying work he did for pro-Russia former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych between 2005 and 2014.

Following his Virginia conviction, President Trump praised Manafort as a “brave man” for not cracking under pressure to score a plea deal — all while bashing his former personal attorney Michael Cohen.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. Justice took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal,’” Trump wrote on his Twitter account. “Such respect for a brave man!”

The same day Manafort was convicted, Cohen struck a plea deal with Manhattan prosecutors related to hush-money payments he made to two women who claim they had an affair with Trump. Cohen has also agreed to cooperate.

Manafort has been holed up in jail pending his second trial after Berman revoked his $10 million bond earlier this summer.

Neither of his cases had anything to do with his work with the Trump campaign, which he ran for five months.

“This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated,” the White House said in a statement shortly after Manafort’s deal was announced.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani issued a similar statement.

“Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: the president did nothing wrong,” he said.

Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has resulted in criminal charges against more than 30 people, many of whom have already pleaded guilty – including Manafort’s former right-hand man and prosecutors’ star witness, Rick Gates.

Manafort is the most prominent Trump aide to plead guilty.

With Post Wires

Share this:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp
  • Email
  • Copy