Read the new charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

Read the new charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort

The New York Times said it was unclear whether such an agreement would include his cooperation in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's election meddling during Trump's 2016 campaign. "Manafort for example could implicate not only the president in the Trump Tower meeting - but also others who were involved such as Don Jr. or [Jared] Kushner", former White House ethics counsel Norman Eisen told conservative writer Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post. The meeting was described as part of the Russian government effort to help the Trump campaign.

He had steadfastly refused to cooperate with Mueller even as the Virginia jury convicted him for hiding from USA tax authorities $16 million he earned as a political consultant in Ukraine to fund an opulent lifestyle and then lying to banks to secure $20 million in loans. His business partner Rick Gates, who testified against him in his trial in Virginia last month, pleaded guilty to two criminal charges, including lying to investigators.

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.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Paul Manafort seated (L) as his lawyer speaks in court.

When Manafort eventually goes for sentencing, the agreement notes that Mueller will let the court know how much Manafort did or did not cooperate.

Trump last month praised Manafort as "a courageous man" for not entering into an agreement with prosecutors while blasting the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen for doing so.

The details of the plea agreement, and whether Manafort would cooperate with prosecutors, were not immediately known.

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

In a later version of the statement, the last line about Manafort telling the truth was removed - perhaps an acknowledgement that at some point Mr Trump's side may have to call into question the former top campaign aide's veracity.

Prosecutors have filed new charging documents against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, signaling he may plead guilty ahead of a second trial next week.

Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. However, Judge Amy But Berman said the statutory guidelines cap the sentence at five years for each count.

One of the potential witnesses against Manafort was Sam Patten, who pleaded guilty on August 31 to failing to register as a Ukrainian agent.

In December, Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn admitted to lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak. He had been jailed since June as a result of the witness tampering charges. The president agreed to wait at least until the investigation concludes, Giuliani has said.

Trump has denied any collusion with Russian officials by his campaign and has long denounced the investigation as a political witch hunt.

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