Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort was scheduled to stand trial in the comings weeks in Washington on a number of charges, just weeks after a trial concluded in Virginia where Manafort was found guilty of 8 out of 18 criminal counts including bank and tax fraud.
But, perhaps in a bid to avoid another lengthy trial, it has been reported that Manafort reached an agreement with Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation to plead guilty on a number of counts related to unregistered lobbying on behalf of foreign governments.
According to The Daily Caller, an emailed statement from the Mueller investigation revealed that “an arraignment and plea agreement hearing” had been scheduled for Friday at the D.C. federal courthouse, where Manafort was expected to enter a guilty plea.
Nothing to do with Trump
“A superseding criminal information against Paul J. Manafort, Jr., 69, of Alexandria, Va., has been filed today in the District of Columbia, which alleges a conspiracy against the United States (money laundering, tax fraud, failing to file Foreign Bank Account Reports, violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act, and lying and misrepresenting to the Department of Justice) and a conspiracy to obstruct justice (witness tampering),” Special Counsel Press said in the statement.
None of those charges have anything to do with the Trump campaign or Manafort’s brief tenure as chair of that campaign, and instead are related to his lobbying on behalf of the Ukraine government in the years prior to his involvement with then-candidate Donald Trump.
The mainstream media narrative purports that Manafort was pursuing a pro-Russia agenda while working in Ukraine, but conflicting reports indicate he was actually working toward a pro-America, pro-European Union agenda for the former Soviet satellite state.
Unlikely to be flipping on Trump
CNBC reported on Friday that details of the agreement had yet to be disclosed.
It was unclear if the deal involved Manafort’s cooperation with Mueller in regard to a potential case against President Trump, but Manafort was reportedly resistant to providing information to Mueller about Trump in alleged discussions earlier in the week about a potential plea agreement.
Earlier reports suggested that the plea deal would not include an explicit requirement that Manafort provides assistance to Mueller in his investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Neither representatives of Manafort nor representatives of Mueller’s investigation agreed to provide comment on the reports of a plea deal.
Some will point to this guilty plea agreement from Manafort as an admission of wrongdoing, but while Manafort certainly appears to have done some shady things, those actions took place prior to Manafort’s involvement with Trump.
Furthermore, unless evidence to the contrary is made known to the public, odds are this plea agreement came about largely so Manafort and Mueller could avoid another expensive and lengthy trial, and not because Manafort has “flipped” and is helping Mueller go after the president.