Paul Manafort plans to plead guilty to second set of charges

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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.

It was not immediately clear if, as part of the plea deal with Mueller, Manafort would cooperate and provide any information to the special counsel's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

That case alleged that Manafort directed a large-scale USA lobbying operation for Ukrainian interests but never registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent despite being required to do so under the law, and that he concealed millions of dollars in income for the consulting work from the IRS.

Manafort's plea deal follows agreements that Mueller's team had already reached with Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Manafort's former deputy Rick Gates.

In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24 before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

Paul Manafort (centre) is heckled as he walks into court. Places like Virginia and NY, both of which have Democratic attorneys general, could prosecute Manafort on state tax violations, for instance.

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Manafort attended the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower in which Kremlin-backed attendees promised to offer damaging information about Trump's 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.

One of the potential witnesses against Manafort was Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty on August 31 to failing to register as a Ukrainian agent.

The structure of Manafort's plea deal limits the effectiveness of any Trump pardon, said Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham University.

Still, Friday's move gives Mueller another successful conviction while allowing Manafort to avoid facing another costly public trial.

Paul Manafort's plea deal may affect Vice President Mike Pence because of the former campaign chairman's role in making him Donald Trump's running mate.

Several media outlets reported that Manafort is close to a plea deal with federal prosecutors.

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In addition to the criminal charges, prosecutors said in a court filing that Manafort could be forced to forfeit assets that would deal him a significant financial blow: four houses he owns, including an expansive retreat in the Hamptons, plus four bank accounts and the proceeds of a life insurance policy. "Everyone should remember that", Manafort's defense lawyer Kevin Downing told reporters outside the courthouse.

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the president did nothing wrong.

Moscow has denied interfering in the 2016 election and Trump has said there was no collusion.

In the current Washington case, prosecutors were expected to lay out in detail Manafort's political consulting and lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Russian Party of Regions.

The charge of witness tampering - formally called obstruction of justice - was added earlier this year after prosecutors alleged the Manafort and his longtime Ukrainian point man, Konstantin Kilimnik, had contacted potential witnesses after Manafort had been indicted in an effort to persuade them to change or coordinate their stories when discussing the case with prosecutors. Yet, Jackson said the request appeared to relate more to concerns about the political affiliation of Washington residents, rather than a unique amount of pretrial publicity. "'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.' Such respect for a fearless man!"

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