Paul Manafort Reaches Plea Deal With Special Counsel Robert Mueller

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

Manafort on Friday is expected to plead guilty to assorted charges as part of a deal with special counsel Robert Mueller.

A superseding criminal information was filed against Manafort in Washington ahead of a scheduled court appearance later Friday morning.

In addition to the witness tampering counts, Manafort had been 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.

Prosecutors allege that Manafort, conspiring with his former business partner Richard Gates and Russian associate Konstantin Kilimnik, illegally lobbied on behalf of a foreign government by failing to register as a foreign agent.

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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. Manafort would be the fifth Trump aide to plead guilty in connection to the special counsel's probe.

Manafort's cooperation would be viewed as significant to Mueller's investigation, given his work on the Trump campaign.

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 Russian Federation in the 2016 USA presidential election.

One of the potential witnesses against Manafort was Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty on August 31 to failing to register as a Ukrainian agent.

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If he pleads guilty, Manafort would avoid a trial that was expected to last at least three weeks and posed the potential of adding years onto the seven to 10 years he is already facing under federal sentencing guidelines from his conviction in Virginia. Kilimnik was charged alongside Manafort in June with conspiracy to obstruct justice, but is unlikely to see his day in court because he is Russian and therefore out of reach of US prosecutors.

In commissioning white-shoe USA law firm Skadden Arps to write a report evaluating the trial of Yakuovych's political opponent Yulia Tymoshenko, Manafort helped the government of Ukraine hide the tremendous sum paid to the firm for this work. Jurors were deadlocked on the other 10 counts.

At a rally in August, Trump said: "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort".

This comes ten days before Manafort's trial was set to begin.

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