Former Donald Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort Pleads Guilty In Robert Mueller Probe


Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States (Reuters)

WASHINGTON: 

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort will plead guilty to two criminal counts as part of a deal with prosecutors on Friday, court documents showed in what could be a blow to Trump in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s long-running probe of Russian election meddling.

As part of the deal, Manafort, 69, could be required to cooperate with Mueller’s probe into Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Details of the deal were likely to emerge in a plea agreement hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. ET (1500 GMT) in federal court. 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.

It remains unclear if the deal will include Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller’s probe, dealing a blow to Trump ahead of congressional elections on Nov. 6.

Another approach would be for Manafort to plead guilty without cooperating in hopes of a presidential pardon. Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.

Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Five other charges were dropped in the new court filing.

A Virginia jury convicted Manafort last month on bank and tax fraud charges.

Jury selection was due to begin on Monday in a second trial on charges including conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering.

Manafort’s decision could be a blow to Trump, who last month praised his former aide for not entering into an agreement with prosecutors, as the president’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had.

On Twitter on Aug. 22, Trump wrote: “Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal. Such respect for a brave man!”

According to the court filing, the charge of conspiracy against the United States includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, and acting as an unregistered lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. The second count, for conspiracy to obstruct justice, concerns attempts to tamper with witnesses related to Manafort’s foreign lobbying.

Manafort’s conviction in Alexandria, Virginia, last month was at a trial arising from Mueller’s investigation. Trump has denied colluding with the Russians and the Russians have denied interfering.

Rick Gates, Manafort’s former business partner and the campaign’s deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia. Gates may have been a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now representing Trump in the Russia probe, told Reuters on Friday that a guilty plea to avoid a second trial would not crush Manafort’s chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon.

“It’s not going to hurt him if he pleads guilty. Usually it helps you get a pardon down the road. It shows you’ve admitted your guilt,” he said on Friday before a deal was announced. He declined further comment until after the hearing.

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Donald Trump Worries That Mueller Interview Could Be A ‘Perjury Trap’


Donald Trump asserted that he retained the power to intervene in the probe. (File)

WASHINGTON: 

US President Donald Trump said on Monday he was worried that any statements under oath he provides to Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be used to bring perjury charges against him as part of the probe into Russia’s electoral interference.

In an interview with Reuters, Trump echoed the concerns of his top lawyer in the probe, Rudy Giuliani, who has warned that any sit-down with Mueller could be a “perjury trap.”

The president expressed fears that investigators could compare his statements with that of others who have testified in the probe, such as former FBI Director James Comey, and that any discrepancies could be used against him.

“So if I say something and he (Comey) says something, and it’s my word against his, and he’s best friends with Mueller, so Mueller might say: ‘Well, I believe Comey,’ and even if I’m telling the truth, that makes me a liar. That’s no good.”

Despite his concerns, Trump did not comment on whether he would ultimately agree to an interview with Mueller, who is, among other things, investigating whether Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russians during the 2016 election and whether Trump has obstructed justice in the probe.

Trump also declined to say whether he might strip Mueller of his security clearance, as he did last week to former CIA Director John Brennan, who had repeatedly criticized Trump’s handling of foreign policy and national security issues.

“I haven’t given it a lot of thought,” he said.

Russia has denied interfering in the 2016 U.S. election and Trump has denied any collusion took place.

As he has done almost daily on Twitter, Trump railed against the probe in the Oval Office interview with Reuters, repeatedly calling it a disgrace and arguing that Mueller and other members of his team were biased.

Trump asserted that he retained the power to intervene in the probe, but that he had chosen not to do so for the moment.

His administration, Trump said, was “a smooth-running machine, except in that world. And I’ve decided to stay out. Now I don’t have to stay out.

“I can go in, and I could do whatever – I could run it if I want. But I decided to stay out,” he said. “I’m totally allowed to be involved if I wanted to be. So far, I haven’t chosen to be involved. I’ll stay out.”

Trump has been critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the probe, leaving oversight to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

In the interview, Trump blamed the investigation for hampering his efforts to strengthen the country’s relationship with Russia and for sowing discord among the American public.

He again neglected to blame Russia for interfering in the 2016 election, a conclusion reached by the U.S. intelligence community.

The probe, he said, “played right into the Russians – if it was Russia – they played right into the Russians’ hands.”

© Thomson Reuters 2018





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Donald Trump Suggests Robert Mueller Is Behind Russia Probe Leaks


Donald Trump’s lawyers sternly oppose attempts by Robert Mueller’s office to interview him

Washington, United States:  American President Donald Trump suggested Saturday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is deliberately leaking to the press documents about his probe into possible collusion with Russia.

“There was No Collusion with Russia (except by the Democrats). When will this very expensive Witch Hunt Hoax ever end? So bad for our Country,” Trump tweeted after the investigation passed its one-year mark last month.

“Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media? Should be looking at Dems corruption instead?”

Earlier, The New York Times published a confidential 20-page letter the American president’s legal team sent to Mueller in January, along with another sent in June 2017.

In the letters, Trump’s lawyers sternly oppose attempts by Mueller’s office to interview him, saying “under our system of government, the president is not readily available to be interviewed.”

They also argue that Trump cannot be accused of obstructing justice because he has the constitutional power to end the investigation led by the Justice Department.

Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to investigate Russian efforts to tip the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor.

He has increasingly dug into evidence of alleged money laundering, fraud and obstruction of justice inside Trump’s inner circle.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)





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Robert Mueller Told Trump Team He Would Not Indict Donald Trump, Says Rudy Giuliani


CNN cited an interview with Rudy Giuliani while reporting the statement. (File photo)

Washignton:  Special Counsel Robert Mueller has told President Donald Trump’s legal team he would follow Justice Department guidance that a president cannot be indicted, CNN reported, citing an interview with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

“All they get to do is write a report,” Giuliani said, according to the network. “They can’t indict. At least they acknowledged that to us after some battling, they acknowledged that to us.”

A spokesman for Mueller, Peter Carr, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Mueller is investigating allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

CNN said the Mueller team had been debating whether to challenge the Nixon-era guidelines, which were reaffirmed during the Clinton administration, that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

Trump has denied colluding with Russia and has called the Mueller investigation, which marks its first anniversary on Thursday, a witch hunt.

Giuliani and another Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
 

© Thomson Reuters 2018

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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