Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
Deal avoids 2nd trial, renews questions on possible pardon
2016 Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort has agreed to plead guilty rather than face a second trial in the overwhelmingly liberal area of Washington, DC. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
WASHINGTON,DC – The anticipated plea deal between 2016 Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and former–FBI-Director/now–Special-Counsel Robert Mueller was announced in U.S. District Court this morning before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, ending days of speculation.
Under the deal, Manafort agreed to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.
Manafort was already facing 80 years behind bars since the first of the two cases brought against him by Mueller’s team resulted in a split verdict in Virginia last month. The agreement announced today would negate the possibility of a second federal trial in the District of Columbia, which is one of the nation’s bluest areas.
Last night, sources told ABC News that Manafort may be looking to avoid the stress and strain of a second trial. He is currently 69 years old and has been behind bars since his bail was revoked by District of Columbia U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson in June.
Under the new agreement, Manafort pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. The deal called for a ten year cap on his prison term with the sentences from his DC and Virginia cases to run concurrently.
However, the deal also seems to complicates the issue of a possible Presidential Pardon. After Manafort’s recent trial in Virginia, rumors began to surface that Trump was going to replace White House Counsel Don McGahn due to McGahn’s hesitance to draft pardon papers for Manafort. Shortly thereafter, the administration indeed announced that Mr. McGahn is going to be leaving his role at the White House this fall. Meanwhile, midterm elections are scheduled to take place on Tuesday, November 6th.
For some time, President Trump has expressed sympathy for his former campaign manager as well as sharp criticism of the Mueller probe, indicating that it is a politically-motivated witch hunt. In comparison to Manafort and former Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who were each charged by Mueller, no criminal charges have ever brought against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, nor former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. However, a Washington, DC federal grand jury is reportedly investigating McCabe following a referral by the DOJ’S Office of the Inspector General.
Today’s announcement also has strong implications for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has often found himself on the receiving end of the President’s tweets. While a small cadre of legislators are publicly backing Sessions, his support among the GOP has largely eroded, to the point now where several prominent voices in his own party have publicly spoken of ousting him after the midterms.