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Trump’s Former Campaign Chair Is Cooperating With Mueller Probe

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Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for then-candidate Donald Trump during his successful 2016 presidential election bid, pleaded guilty to two charges in federal court, and agreed to cooperate with an ongoing investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Manafort has agreed to plead guilty to two charges. The first is one count of conspiracy against the United States. The second, stemming from his attempts to tamper with witnesses as he awaited trial, is a guilty plea of obstruction of justice.

It was also announced that Manafort was entering a “cooperation agreement” with the Department of Justice, including Mueller’s investigation, during his appearance in court on Friday. What that entails and who it may target is yet unknown.

The White House was fast to react to the news, explaining that Manafort’s guilty pleas were in no way connected to President Trump.

“This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “It is totally unrelated.”

There are reasons, however, for Trump and others to be concerned, some observers point out. The Mueller probe is likely looking into myriad other issues, including possible coordination with Russia by the Trump campaign to help its interference efforts, as well as obstruction of justice by Trump officials — including the president himself.

Some have expressed concern that Manfort could be offered a pardon by the president. But a move such as that may do more damage to Trump than good — whether he’s innocent or not, a pardon could make him look more guilty than anything else, and could in itself result in more questioning from Mueller in the long run.

Manafort was found guilty last month of eight counts of federal financial crimes. His guilty plea today means he will not have to face a separate trial relating to other charges.

Featured image credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia


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