Manafort makes deal with Mueller to avoid another trial

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Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation in exchange for reduced charges, according to the New York Times.

The White House says Manafort's decision to plead guilty and cooperate with Mueller is "totally unrelated" to President Donald Trump.

Wearing a purple tie beneath his dark suit, Manafort looked glum as the hearing unfolded, standing next to his attorney, Richard Westling, with a court security officer standing immediately behind him.

He smiled broadly as he entered the courtroom Friday but gave terse and barely audible answers during questioning from the judge. "People aren't going to say they will run against Trump unless they have the infrastructure but I've been trying to persuade people that it may not be that hard", he added. The two conspiracy counts he admitted to on Friday each carry up to five years, though Manafort's sentence will ultimately depend on his cooperation.

At the end of the segment, Dershowitz said that a pardon for Manafort is "off the table". The discovery of his witness contacts led to a superseding indictment in June and Manafort's jailing ahead of his trial.

Read the charges against Manafort. Giuliani added that "the president did nothing wrong".

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It was the second version of the statement.

Here are three takeaways from the deal and what Manafort's cooperation with the special counsel means for his sentencing, the Mueller investigation, and a potential pardon from the president.

The White House said in a statement that the agreement had "absolutely nothing to do" with the president or his 2016 campaign.

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The plea announced on Friday covered Manafort's work as a lobbyist for a now-deposed president of Ukraine, for which he did not register as required by law.

Prosecutors applied "tremendous pressure on him" he claimed, but Manafort "refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a "deal". He was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia. Manafort faces up to a decade in federal prison for the two conspiracy charges.

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In-person jury selection for his Washington trial was set to start Monday, with opening statements scheduled for September 24 before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. He worked on the campaign as an unregistered foreign agent.

Now the special counsel's office can refocus on the central portion of its investigation - whether there was any co-ordination between the Russian government and the Trump team in 2016. In an April court filing, Mueller's prosecutors defended their pursuit of Manafort, even though he wasn't charged with crimes related to Russian election interference. "Now that Mr. Manafort is cooperating, we may soon have answers". It's entirely up to Mueller and his team based on the value of the information they receive from Manafort.

After his arrest in October, he was detained by the court in his Alexandria, Virginia, home for more than eight months.

Prosecutors hold all the cards: If they decide the information Manafort proffers is redundant or offers them little value, it's within their right to pull out of the agreement and continue prosecuting him.

Prosecutors also gained the cooperation of his longtime associate Rick Gates, who had been indicted alongside him.

Manafort had denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty. Both charges are related to his work for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. He is also accused of tampering with witnesses in the case.

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Manafort's agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to cooperate "fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly" could put to the test U.S. President Donald Trump's denials of campaign collusion with Russian Federation, lawyers not involved in the case said.

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