Until suddenly there wasn’t.
The former Trump campaign chairman, who for months stood resolute in his innocence and determined to fight charge upon charge even as fellow onetime loyalists caved, reached an extraordinary plea agreement with special counsel
The deal, struck in
His leadership of the campaign at a time when prosecutors say Russian intelligence was working to sway the election, and his involvement in episodes under scrutiny, may make him an especially insightful witness
He was among the participants in a
He was also a close business associate of a man who
“The expectations around Manafort’s cooperation are likely at a level beyond anyone else to date who has agreed to cooperate,” said
Manafort had long resisted the idea of cooperating even as prosecutors stacked additional charges against him in
Then came Friday’s extraordinary development when Manafort agreed to provide any information asked of him, testify whenever asked and even work undercover if necessary. The cooperation ensures the investigation will extend far beyond the November midterm elections despite entreaties from the president’s lawyers that Mueller bring it to a close.
The agreement makes Manafort the latest associate of Trump, a president known to place a premium on loyalty among subordinates, to admit guilt and work with investigators in hopes of leniency.
Mueller had already secured cooperation from a former national security adviser who lied to the FBI about discussing sanctions with a Russian ambassador; a campaign aide who broached the idea of a meeting with Putin; and another aide who was indicted alongside Manafort but ultimately turned on him. Trump’s former personal lawyer has separately pleaded guilty in
Friday’s deal, was struck just days before Manafort was to have stood trial for a second time.
He was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in
“He wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life. He’s accepted responsibility. This is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that,” Manafort attorney
“The president was OK with it,” he said. “In a way, it’s another indication there is no evidence of collusion. All of these charges predate the time Paul spent with the president. And there’s nothing in what he pleaded about collusion.”
It’s unclear how the deal might affect any Manafort pursuit of a pardon from Trump, though Giuliani told
Under the terms of the deal, Manafort was allowed to plead guilty to just two counts, though the crimes he admitted largely overlap with the conduct alleged in an indictment last year. He abandoned his right to appeal his sentences in
But the guilty plea also spares Manafort the cost of a weekslong trial that could have added years to the prison time he’s already facing following the
Prosecutors on Friday presented new information about allegations they were prepared to reveal at trial, which was to have focused on Manafort’s political consulting and lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian President
That case alleged that Manafort directed a large-scale
He also failed to disclose his involvement in lobbying efforts made through a group of former European politicians, known as the
In 2013, one of the politicians and his country’s prime minister met with then-President
Another allegation revealed Friday concerns Manafort’s efforts to peddle stories to discredit Yanukovych’s opponent,
Prosecutors said he spread stories and secretly coordinated with an Israeli government official to publicize the idea that a
“I have someone pushing it on the
Online: Read the charges against Manafort: http://apne.ws/M1oQRia