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Trump ex-campaign chief Manafort pleads guilty

September 14, 2018

Paul Manafort has admitted to conspiracy and witness tampering charges. The relevations came just weeks after Manafort was found guilty on eight other counts.

Paul Manafort
Image: Reuters/Y. Gripas

Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for US President Donald Trump, has pled guilty  to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and witness tampering, court documents indicated on Friday.

The revelations come three weeks after Manafort was convicted in a separate trial on eight counts related to financial fraud as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into election interference.

The new charges relate to his political lobbying work in Ukraine, where he worked on behalf of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, both in Kyiv and in the US. Although such work is required to be registered with US authorities under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Manafort neglected to do so for years.

During this time, Manafort was also actively working for several Russian oligarchs.

In response to the guilty plea, the White House emphasized that the charges relating to Manafort's activities had "nothing to do" with the 2016 election.

"This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated," said Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Working for Mueller

Pleading guilty to these charges allowed Manafort to make a deal with prosecutors, and avoid adding jail time to the ten years he is already facing for the earlier convictions. 

As part of the deal, Manafort has agreed to cooperate "fully and truthfully" with the special counsel investigation. 

Although this move avoids a potentially embarrassing trial for Republicans in the run-up to the US midterm elections, it likely dashes any earlier hope of a presidential pardon. Trump had signaled a willingness to consider clemency for Manafort through his spokesman Rudy Giuliani. Trump has also favorably compared Manafort to Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer. The president praised Manafort for refusing to "break" and talk to Mueller, unlike Cohen.

Cohen has plead guilty to eight counts of campaign finance violations, including paying off adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Donald Trump: 'It doesn't involve me'

es/rt (AP, AFP)

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