All the president’s men are pleading guilty to federal crimes even as Trump continues to rant about “witch hunts” from his Twitter account. While only one, Trump’s longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, has stood up in court and directly implicated the president as an unindicted coconspirator, there certainly are witches popping up all over the place.
A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2018
Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed documents for the plea agreement on Friday ahead of Manafort’s appearance in court. The Washington Post reports that:
‘The planned plea, if accepted by a judge, would short-circuit his second trial scheduled to begin this month in the District on charges of money laundering and lobbying violations. He is expected to enter his guilty plea this morning in federal court.
‘It was not immediately clear if, as part of the plea deal with Mueller, Manafort would cooperate and provide any information to the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.’
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) September 14, 2018
It remains unclear whether or not Manafort plans to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation into the alleged collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign, which Manafort managed as the second of three campaign managers, or if he has simply agreed to plead guilty to avoid a second trial.
‘People familiar with the plea discussions have previously said that Manafort has no intention of cooperating with Mueller, so it’s possible any prospective agreement could allow him to admit guilt without providing information to investigators.’
Manafort was found guilty on eight of the 18 charges in his first trial while the other 10 remain undecided at this point. The former lobbyist and campaign manager may still have to face a third trial if those charges go forward.
BREAKING: Special Counsel’s Office files superseding information against Paul Manafort, meaning a plea is expected. More to come. pic.twitter.com/7Wrprl5zQQ
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) September 14, 2018
For trial number two, which Manafort was facing in recent days, he is pleading guilty to two additional charges:
‘A criminal information filed in advance of the plea deal shows that Manafort intends to plead guilty to two crimes of the seven he faced at trial: conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice.
‘The document indicates he will admit to funneling millions of dollars in payments into offshore accounts to conceal his income from the Internal Revenue Service. “Manafort cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes,” the information states.’
Trump's ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort has concluded a plea deal that will avert a trial in D.C., on charges related to his lobbying work in Ukraine and allegations of witness tampering in the case against him. https://t.co/RUdEk4Gao3 via @johnson_carrie
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) September 14, 2018
The conspiracy to defraud the U.S. carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, while the conspiracy to obstruct justice can carry up to 20 years imprisonment. Along with his eight other guilty charges, Manafort could conceivably never be released from prison. Should the other 10 charges move forward to trial, Manafort’s problems will increase exponentially.