Trump’s ex-campaign chairman reaches ‘cooperation’ deal with USA prosecutors - Ireland

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Former Trump campaign manager Manafort pleads guilty, will cooperate with special counsel

US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort agreed on Friday (Saturday NZ Time) to cooperate with the special counsel's Russian Federation investigation as he pleaded guilty to federal charges and avoided a second trial that could have exposed him to even greater punishment.

But Schiff did suggest a few possible ways in which Manafort - who was convicted last month on tax and bank fraud charges and faced more legal jeopardy - could shed light on questions involving possible Trump campaign conspiracy with Russian sabotage of the election or obstruction of justice.

Manafort's conviction in Alexandria, Virginia, last month was at a trial arising from Mueller's investigation.

Eisen said he doesn't think Mueller would have offered the plea deal unless there was "very powerful evidence" that Manafort could contribute information important to the investigation. 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.

He was indicted along with Manafort for allegedly contacting witnesses in an attempt to interfere with the investigation.

Trump has distanced himself from Manafort, who led his presidential campaign from May 2016 to August 2016. The FBI considered Steele a reliable source, but investigators can bolster any collusion case if Manafort can corroborate any of the claims.

"Manafort, if he was going to make a deal, should've made it before he was convicted".

But while there is wide consensus in the USA intelligence community that Russian Federation interfered in the election, partly by manipulating the American public through propaganda and misinformation on social media, no hard evidence has yet emerged, or been announced, of specific instances of collusion with Russian Federation. That probe was later taken over by Mueller.

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A woman named Bree tweeted: "If anybody could help. our cars is under water and so is our house stuck in attic". The father was also in the house and had to be taken to a local hospital for treatment after the incident.

Inside the White House on Friday after the plea, the mood was "oddly calm", said one Republican in frequent touch with officials there.

Manafort has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel and entered guilty pleas on two charges.

In a statement, the White House distanced Trump from the veteran operative who helped get him elected against the odds in 2016. The plea agreement requires him to cooperate completely with the government, which includes giving interviews without his attorney present and testifying before any grand juries or at any trials.

In a Twitter comment, the US leader called the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller "illegal" and said it "continues in search of a crime". He left the campaign after press reports emerged detailing his financial relations with ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in large part because these ties were viewed as an obstacle to USA efforts to consolidate a right-wing pro-US regime in Kyiv. He was charged with lying about conversations with a Russian ambassador during the transition.

First, Schiff noted, Mueller would likely want to know from Manafort as much as possible about the infamous Trump Tower meeting of June 2016, which Donald Trump jnr, Jared Kushner and Manafort attended in the full expectation of getting dirt on former secretary of state Hillary Clinton supplied by the Russian Government.

But Starr cautioned that cooperating witnesses in deals like this do not always end up giving the prosecutors what they had hoped for. He told jurors how he committed crimes alongside Manafort for years and admitted doctoring documents, falsifying information and creating fake loans to lower his former boss' tax bill, and acknowledged stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars without Manafort's knowledge by filing fake expense reports.

Fuelling speculation over Russia's role in the last presidential election is a June 9, 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in NY.

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