Paul Manafort to Plead Guilty Ahead of Second Trial
President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to plead guilty to federal crimes.
Should his plea be accepted by a judge, Manafort will dodge a second trial, which was due to begin later this month and had the potential of adding years onto his existing conviction in Virginia.
A court document notes that the scheduled pre-trial conference has been replaced with an “arraignment and plea agreement hearing,” suggesting that Manafort plans to enter his guilty plea Friday morning. He will reportedly plead guilty to two of the seven charges he faced: conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice, according to a criminal information filed Friday. It is unclear whether he will cooperate with prosecutors against Trump as part of the plea deal.
Manafort was earlier found guilty of eight counts of tax evasion, failing to report foreign bank accounts, and bank fraud. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could face seven to 10 years in prison.
This second case was due to examine Manafort’s lobbying and consulting work on behalf of Ukraine. He faces charges of conspiring against the U.S., money laundering, failing to register as a lobbyist, making false statements, and conspiring to obstruct justice by trying to influence witnesses.
Manafort had earlier been given the choice to consolidate the two cases, but declined. The effect of this guilty plea on his ultimate sentencing is unclear; however, The Washington Post suggests that some suspect Manafort is hoping to be pardoned by Trump.