Just over an hour ago, Paul Manafort was in a U.S. court pleading guilty to charges brought against him by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The guilty plea includes an agreement by Paul Manafort to cooperate with investigators, and requires him to tell the Special Counsel everything they want to know about his dealings with the Trump campaign as well as other matters.
While there is no guarantee that Manafort will be able to provide Robert Mueller with any evidence against President Trump, CNN reports that the cooperation agreement does require that Manafort provides interviews to investigators without having his own attorneys present. He will also be required to turn over any documents that the special counsel’s office requests, and also provide testimony in future proceedings if needed.
We do know that Manafort worked with lobbying firms, which appear on the surface to have broken federal laws. His testimony could lead to the arrests and prosecution of other individuals who were working on behalf the Ukraine Party of Regions or the unnamed lobbyists in the court filings released today.
Paul Manafort worked for the Trump campaign for 6 months, and he was also present during the infamous Trump Tower meeting that included Donald Trump Jr. as well as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Manafort has had close ties to Russia in the past, particularly Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska as well as many pro-Russian Ukrainian officials. Back in February of 2017, the New York Times reported that Manafort had communications with senior Russian intelligence officials during the Trump campaign.
The U.S. Government used a FISA warrant to tap into some of Manafort’s communications between 2014 and 2017, and some of these communications, according to CNN last year, raised concerns among investigators that Manafort had sought assistance for the Trump campaign from Russia.
In April of this year, Robert Mueller provided a list of questions that his team wished to ask President Trump. One question on that list was, “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?”
Before the 2016 election, U.S. spies overheard Russian officials discussing how they could use Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn to exert influence over Donald Trump.
Roger Stone and Paul Manafort have worked very closely in the past. They worked together for the Washington DC lobbying and political consulting firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly and Roger Stone is believed to have played an integral role in Trump hiring Manafort to work on his campaign.
While nothing is mentioned within the plea deal, in regards to the Trump campaign, undoubtedly Paul Manafort has information that the Special Counsel believes will help them in their case against other members of the campaign, possibly including President Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and others.