Former Trump manager Manafort to plead guilty in Mueller probe: court documents


President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and witness tampering, court documents indicated on Friday.

Manafort was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia.

It was the first criminal trial arising from the justice department probe into alleged Russian election meddling. Add Russia Investigation as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Russia Investigation news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

Mr Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation.

The new court filing indicates that prosecutors have taken a number of the earlier charges against Manafort, including a money laundering charge that could, on its own, bring a 20-year sentence, and folded them into two charges that would each yield five-year sentences. Jury selection was due to start on Monday.

A juror in the Virginia case said she discounted testimony from Gates but found the documents that prosecutors introduced to be "overwhelming" in favor of conviction.

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

That posture drew plaudits from Trump, who praised his former campaign chairman for his unwillingness to cooperate with the special counsel. It's the type of filing typically seen before a plea deal.

The plea would avoid a trial related to Manafort's alleged lobbying and consulting work on behalf of pro-Russian political parties in Ukraine. Either he has offered some form of cooperation, one source familiar with the case explained, or the government has concluded that it has hit him with a sufficient number of charges and following through with a second trial is not worth the time and expense.

Manafort had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty. The second count, for conspiracy to obstruct justice, concerns attempts to tamper with witnesses related to Manafort's foreign lobbying.

President Trump has not said whether he would pardon Manafort, but the president has not publicly ruled it out.