The Russian Connection: Manafort Agrees To Cooperate With Mueller

It has been speculated for awhile that Donald Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort would agree to a plea deal and cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign collaboration with Russia to win the 20116 election. In order to avoid another costly trial that he would inevitably loose, Friday morning Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and another count of obstruction of justice. Part of that deal is full cooperation with the Mueller investigation.

Manafort could eventually be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison as a part of the deal, and will forfeit four real estate properties worth millions of dollars, as well as bank accounts and a life insurance policy.

“I plead guilty,” the 69 year old veteran Republican political consultant told the court after being read the charges against him.

He listened to her with a long face as she listed all his assets and properties which will be seized, which include a luxurious home with a pool, tennis and basketball courts in Long Island’s tony Hamptons district. [..]

There had been speculation that Manafort would not cooperate with Mueller in hopes of receiving an eventual pardon from Trump, who, according to multiple reports, had discussed the idea with his lawyers.

Manafort could have inside information on how much the campaign interacted with Russians during the election. US intelligence chiefs say Moscow interfered in the election extensively in an effort designed to help Trump defeat his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Manafort was most notably present at a meeting held by campaign executives, including Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner, with a Russian lawyer who had offered them “dirt” on Clinton.

That meeting is now a focus of the Mueller investigation.

Paul Manafort s Plea Agreem… by on Scribd

Federal Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told Judge Amy Berman Jackson Manafort’s plea agreement is a “cooperation agreement,” and other charges will be dropped at sentencing at “or at the agreement of successful cooperation.” Also, prosecution on the remaining ten counts in the Virginia mistrial would be dropped. Prosecutors will drop the five remaining charges in DC federal court against Manafort, including money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, violating federal foreign lobbying law and lying to the Department of Justice. But the court filing says Manafort admits to the actions. Manafort will remain in custody in nearby Alexandria, Virginia.

There is also interesting revelations in the charging documents:

In one remarkable section of the charging document, prosecutors detailed the nature of Manafort’s work for Viktor Yanukovych, who was elected president of Ukraine in 2010 with Russia’s backing until he was removed from power as part of the country’s political revolution four years later. In 2010, he was running against Yulia Tymoshenko, and prosecutors said Manafort worked to undermine Tymoshenko in the U.S. by spreading stories that a senior U.S. Cabinet official was supporting anti-Semitism because the official supported Tymoshenko, who in turn had formed a political alliance with a Ukraine party that espoused anti-Semitic views.

Manafort privately coordinated with an unnamed senior Israeli official to spread this story as part of what he called an effort to have “Obama Jews” pressure the Obama administration to disavow Tymoshenko. Manafort wrote to one associate: “I have someone pushing it on the NY Post. Bada bing bada boom.”

At least one outlet — Breitbart News — took Manafort’s bait, publishing a story with the headline, “Jewish Leaders Blame Hillary Clinton For ‘Legitimizing’ Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Party.”

“Manafort sought to have the Administration understand that ‘the Jewish community will take this out on Obama on election day if he does nothing,'” the charging document said.

The document also describes Manafort asking lobbyists in 2013 via “written communications” to spread a story that Tymoshenko had paid for the murder of a Ukrainian official. Manafort said, “[m]y goal is to plant some stink on Tymo.”

Manafort said he wanted the story to be “push[ed]” “[w]ith no fingerprints.”

“It is very important we have no connection,” said Manafort.

It seems obvious Manafort decided he could not rely on a pardon from Trump which many lawyers and legislators viewed as possibly an obstruction of justice and impeachable abuse of power. Trump is loyal only to one person, himself. After the conviction on eight counts in a Virginia federal court and the possibility that he could be retried on the ten counts that the jury failed to decide, Manafort saw the inevitable had writing on the wall, he was going to spend the rest of his life in prison. The deal puts a cap on any sentence he’ll receive at 10 years. Manafort’s other concern was the safety of his family. The reality of his association with Russian oligarchs and close allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin put them and himself in danger. It is long known that those who cross Putin have ended up dead. This on top of the exorbitant cost of his defense which has already running into the millions of dollars.

This is really bad news, not just for Donald Trump, but for his children, as well.

The guilty plea by Manafort, 69, relates to money earned from consulting work on behalf of pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine and predate his tenure as chairman of Trump’s presidential campaign.

However, during his time on the campaign, he participated in a controversial meeting with Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, with a Russian lawyer who supposedly had negative information about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Mueller is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion by members of Trump’s campaign in that effort. Mueller is also looking into whether Trump obstructed justice in an effort to influence the Russia probe.

Manafort has all the goods and now must turn it all over to Mueller who is focused on the Russian connection to Trump and his campaign, as well as, obstruction of justice. Stay tuned, this is just getting really juicy.