Ex-Trump campaign boss Manafort pleads guilty

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Washington D.C. [USA], Sept 17 (ANI): United States President Donald Trump on Sunday once again hit out at special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation on alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, saying that the latter is continuing his "search of a crime".

For Manafort, who had already been convicted of eight counts in his first trial and who was facing many more, there was really only one reason not to cooperate: If he could be sure that Trump would pardon him.

When Paul Manafort was first charged by prosecutors a year ago, court documents read like the opening scene of lives of the rich and famous: From multiple properties complete with gardens manicured in the form of an "M" for the GOP operative's name to high-priced shopping sprees to custom-made suits. He did not elaborate on the agreement. The two conspiracy counts he pleaded guilty to on Friday (Saturday NZT) carry up to five years in prison, though Manafort's sentence will ultimately depend on his cooperation.

"This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

A White House spokeswoman quickly sought to distance Trump from the plea deal, saying Manafort's admission of guilt was "totally unrelated" to Trump.

He also said he hopes the Mueller investigation does not lead to Trump's impeachment. Prosecutors have until August 29 to decide whether they will seek a retrial on the 10 counts where the jury hung.

I spoke to Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who said we can not be sure of the outlines of the deal they made. Manafort served in several roles in the Trump campaign and was present for the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower between a number of campaign officials and a Russian lawyer who was thought to be offering dirt on Hillary Clinton. Others who have pleaded guilty are former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and Manafort's deputy Rick Gates. The president has signalled that he's sympathetic to Manafort's cause.

As part of the deal, the government has the authority to seize four of Manafort's homes in NY and Virginia as well as the money in a number of bank accounts, court documents filed by prosecutors said.

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Which is possible. But I'm guessing that pardon is off the table.

Manafort was among the participants in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting in NY with Russians and Trump's oldest son and son-in-law that was arranged for the campaign to receive derogatory information about Democratic president nominee Hillary Clinton. Starr imagined Mueller would tell Manafort the same thing he used to tell his own cooperating witnesses: "We can deal with the truth, whatever the truth is".

One by one, the special counsel's office methodically turned allies of President Donald Trump into witnesses for its investigation - irking the commander in chief so much that he has suggested the commonplace law-enforcement tactic "almost ought to be illegal".

But Harvard law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Giuliani is putting a positive spin on "bad" situation for President Trump.

He has denied any collusion with Russians.

Manafort may know less about Trump's sexual shenanigans and the women threatened or paid to stay quiet than fixer Cohen does.

Senator Mark Warner, the leading Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said any attempt by Trump to pardon Manafort "would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress".

Trump last month praised his former aide for not entering into an agreement with prosecutors, as the president's. The president has not said whether he would do so.