Ex-Trump campaign boss reaches plea deal

Paul Manafort’s wife Kathleen Manafort left arrives at federal court in Washington Friday Sept. 14 2018. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is expected to plead guilty to federal charges as part of a deal with the special counsel’s offi

Paul Manafort’s wife Kathleen Manafort left arrives at federal court in Washington Friday Sept. 14 2018. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is expected to plead guilty to federal charges as part of a deal with the special counsel’s offi

Prosecutors have filed new charging documents against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, signaling he may plead guilty ahead of a second trial next week.

The investigation looked at such interactions "before and during the campaign to plumb motives and opportunities to coordinate and to expose possible channels for surreptitious communications", prosecutors wrote.

The 69-year-old political consultant was convicted last month in Alexandria, Virginia federal court on charges of bank and tax fraud. Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation, which has cast a shadow over Trump's presidency.

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"Manafort agreed to plead to conspiracy against the USA and conspiracy to obstruct justice by tampering with witnesses". Jury selection was due to start on Monday.

The deal is the culmination of a federal investigation that has kept Manafort's name in the headlines for more than a year, from summer 2017, when the FBI raided his residence in Virginia, through last October, when the charges first dropped, and into February, when his former business deputy and co-defendant Rick Gates reached his own plea deal with Mueller.

The special counsel's office also announced the scheduling of the arraignment and plea agreement hearing in the Manafort case.

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That posture drew plaudits from Trump, who praised his former campaign chairman for his unwillingness to cooperate with the special counsel. Such filings typically indicate that a deal has been reached.

Manafort's second trial would have been related to his Ukrainian political consulting work, including failing to register as a foreign agent. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts.

The president has signalled that he's sympathetic to Manafort's cause, and in comments to Politico, his attorney-spokesman Rudy Giuliani said a plea without a cooperation agreement wouldn't foreclose the possibility of a pardon. Manafort was lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russian party in Ukraine, the Party of Regions, and was credited of resuscitating the career of its leader, Viktor Yanukovych, who won the presidency in 2010.

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The allegations do not involve his work with the Trump presidential campaign. Manafort would be the fifth Trump aide to plead guilty in connection to the special counsel's probe. Gates may have been a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

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