SEPTEMBER 14, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Paul Manafort, formerly President Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors.
Prosecutor Andrew Weissman called Manafort’s plea deal a cooperation agreement during an 11 a.m. hearing at the federal courthouse in Washington.
A charging document filed Friday in the District of Columbia accuses Manafort, 69, of participating in a conspiracy against the United States — involving money laundering, tax fraud, failing to file Foreign Bank Account Reports, violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and lying and misrepresenting to the Department of Justice.
The second charge, conspiracy to obstruct justice, is tied to his efforts to guide witness testimony after he was indicted last year.
In August, Trump praised Manafort for having “refused to break” in order to get a deal, and said he had “such respect for a brave man.”
Friday morning’s hearing at the federal courthouse in Washington was originally a pre-trial conference but was officially redesignated an “arraignment and plea agreement hearing.”
As part of the plea, Manafort would be required to admit to the conduct outlined in the charging document, which describes a criminal scheme to launder money, defraud banks, evade taxes and violate lobbying laws. The document describes the conduct Manafort was charged with in both Virginia and Washington and additional criminal conduct.
The filings do not indicate whether Manafort will cooperate in the ongoing investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office or any other investigations.
Upon entering his guilty plea, Manafort will forfeit three properties in New York — his home in the Hamptons, a property in Manhattan on Howard Street, and a property in Brooklyn — as well as a property on Edgewood Street in Arlington, Virginia, according to the filing.
In addition, Manafort will forfeit all funds contained in four bank accounts, as well as a life insurance policy.
In one remarkable section of the charging document, prosecutors detailed the nature of Manafort’s work for Viktor Yanukovych, who was elected president of Ukraine in 2010 with Russia’s backing until he was removed from power as part of the country’s political revolution four years later. In 2010, he was running against Yulia Tymoshenko, and prosecutors said Manafort worked to undermine Tymoshenko in the U.S. by spreading stories that a senior Cabinet official was supporting anti-Semitism because the official supported Tymoshenko, who in turn had formed a political alliance with a Ukraine party that espoused anti-Semitic views.
Manafort privately coordinated with an unnamed senior Israeli official to spread this story as part of what he called an effort to have “Obama Jews” pressure the Obama administration to disavow Tymoshenko. Manafort wrote to one associate: “I have someone pushing it on the NY Post. Bada bing bada boom.”
At least one outlet — Breitbart News — took Manafort’s bait, publishing a story with the headline, “Jewish Leaders Blame Hillary Clinton For ‘Legitimizing’ Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Party.”
“Manafort sought to have the Administration understand that ‘the Jewish community will take this out on Obama on election day if he does nothing,'” the charging document said.
The plea deal pertains to what was to have been the second of Manafort’s two federal trials. Jury selection for the trial, in a Washington federal court, had been scheduled to start Monday.
Last month, a federal jury in Virginia convicted Manafort on eight felony counts, including five counts of tax fraud, one count of failure to file a report of foreign bank and financial accounts and two counts of bank fraud.
The judge in the trial, however, declared a mistrial on the 10 other charges he faced, including on three counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, and seven counts of bank fraud and bank fraud conspiracy.
Courtesy/Source: NBC News