Trump ex-campaign head Manafort changes mind, cooperates in Russian Federation probe

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Generally, those who plead guilty sit down with prosecutors to detail what they know in a "proffer" session, so the government knows what it will get in the bargain.

US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has pleaded guilty to two federal crimes after cutting a deal with prosecutors and agreeing to cooperate with the special counsel's Russian Federation probe.

Trump's former longtime attorney Michael Cohen went from serving as his personal "pit bull" to implicating Trump in campaign law violations - the same day Manafort was convicted in his first federal trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort sought to turn what he termed "Obama jews" against former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko as part of his lobbying work for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, according to a Friday indictment prosecutors filed in federal court. Convicted last month on five counts for tax fraud, two for bank fraud, and one for failure to disclose a foreign bank account, Manafort on Friday pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice by witness tampering.

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 length of his sentence will ultimately depend on his cooperation.

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Starr also contrasted Clinton's and Trump's styles, saying, "Bill Clinton had a very different style - charismatic, attractive and so forth - whereas Donald Trump comes directly at you as a NY street fighter".

Manafort also waived his right to have counsel present for every debriefing or interview.

The agreement makes Manafort the latest associate of Trump, a president known to place a premium on loyalty among subordinates, to admit guilt and work with investigators in hopes of leniency. While Manafort was a member of the campaign, others also made contact with Russians, although it isn't clear what Manafort knew about any other contacts.

Trump has denied any collusion with the Russians by his campaign and has long denounced the special counsel's investigation as a political witch-hunt. That probe was later taken over by Mueller. While the platform was being drafted, Trump campaign officials stepped in to block a provision about arming Ukraine to fight Russian-backed militias.

Cornell University professor of law Jens David Ohlin said it was hard to predict what information a cooperation agreement will yield but that Manafort's plea deal could be a serious problem for Trump. Usually it helps you get a pardon down the road.

It's unclear how the possible deal might affect Manafort's pursuit of a pardon from Trump.

In the case of Patten, the special counsel's office didn't even handle the case itself; it spun off a recommendation to prosecute to the National Security Division of the big Justice Department. He was charged with lying about conversations with a Russian ambassador during the transition. Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation, which has cast a shadow over Trump's presidency. 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. Trump's former personal lawyer has separately pleaded guilty in NY.

But it was Donald Jr. who set-up the Trump Tower meeting after an email offer promising dirt on Clinton. A grand jury used by Mueller has heard testimony about the meeting.