White House says Manafort plea is 'totally unrelated' to Trump's 'victorious' campaign

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Paul Manafort's decision to plead guilty and cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, after many months of playing the silent tough guy, would not be surprising to anyone who ever endured the ordeal of facing a federal criminal prosecution.

There was no sentencing Friday, and Manafort is still detained in prison in Alexandria.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said in court Friday that Manafort must participate in interviews and debriefings, provide documents and testify in future cases. "Now, he plays out the string, but I think he cuts it", Litman said. Five other charges were dropped in the new court filing. In DC, his seven criminal counts are rewritten as two.

In addition to the witness tampering counts, Manafort is formally charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent, conspiring to launder money and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department about the nature of his work.

A presidential pardon now is "off the table; it's too little, too late", Dershowitz explained.

Just last month, Trump praised Manafort shortly after he was convicted of tax and bank fraud charges. "There's no fear that Paul Manafort would cooperate against the president because there's nothing to cooperate about and we long ago evaluated him as an honorable man".

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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.

The Analysis: This is of great benefit to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and great detriment to Donald Trump. "This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign", the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said in a statement. But last month, Trump expressed sympathy for him.

The language of the plea agreement is "really one-sided", she said.

The president tweeted "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to 'break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal.

In their filing, prosecutors describe Manafort's scheme to take in more than $60 million from pro-Russian Ukrainians and launder that money to avoid paying taxes. What's the need for another trial?.They've got enough to put him in jail. He will also forfeit four homes and money in several bank accounts, according to the Times. CNN is reporting that Manafort has already given information to the Department of Justice (reminder that a report from earlier this year contained a nugget saying that Trump has told friends and aides that Manafort can incriminate him).

The deal allows Manafort to avoid a second trial that had been scheduled to start next week in Washington.

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The Virginia case was the first brought by Mueller to go to trial, and the guilty finding by the jury - on eight of 18 charges - was a significant victory for Mueller's team.

A pardon, however, has always been an insecure lifeline for Manafort.

The charges do not relate to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. It's entirely up to Mueller and his team based on the value of the information they receive from Manafort. The allegations revealed last October reiterated a year of news reports that Manafort had secretly funneled income from Ukrainian lobbying contacts for years.

Trump's former fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted financial crimes and is helping federal prosecutors in NY. "And Kilimnik was formerly Manafort's longtime business associate - and possibly has ties to Russian intelligence", Ward wrote.

He had steadfastly refused to cooperate with Mueller even as the Virginia jury convicted him for hiding from USA tax authorities $16 million he earned as a political consultant in Ukraine to fund an opulent lifestyle and then lying to banks to secure $20 million in loans.

Prosecutor Andrew Weismann told the court that the deal includes a "cooperation agreement", which could pose yet another major legal headache to Trump.

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