Paul Manafort to plead guilty to two charges

Paul Manafort to plead guilty as part of plea deal with special counsel

According to the court documents cited by U.S. media, Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The charges were filed in a superseding criminal information - a formal criminal charge - which lays out the facts of the offense and is often the precursor to the announcement of a deal.

In August Manafort was found guilty of bank and tax fraud in a trial that lasted more than two weeks. He could also get a pardon from Trump, which would set off a political firestorm.

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

So far, Manafort has refused to turn on his former boss - unlike other Trump administration figures - and there has been speculation that he is waiting on a pardon from the president at some later date.

The court then changed Manafort's scheduled appearance later in the morning to an arraignment and plea hearing.

He said that, should the deal include Manafort's cooperation with Mr Mueller's Trump-Russia investigation, it could be bad news for the USA president.

Kathleen Manafort, wife of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, arrives prior to a pre-trial hearing for Paul Manafort ahead of his upcoming trial on a range of charges stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election at U.S. District Court in Washington, U.S., September 14, 2018. He left the campaign in August that year - days after the New York Times reported a Ukraine investigation had uncovered $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments involving Manafort from 2007 to 2012.

The move toward a guilty plea is another reversal for Manafort, who has fought vociferously - but unsuccessfully - against Mueller's probe.

The criminal information received reduced seven previous charges on money laundering, conspiracy, false statements and failure to register as a foreign agent. Gates may have been a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

"I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence", Manafort said in February.

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