Paul Manafort In Talks for Plea Deal In Second Trial, But Negotiations Falter
As a jury deliberated in Manafort trial last week, the lawyers of former chairman of President Donald Trump‘s campaign, Paul Manafort, were reportedly in talks with prosecutors about the possibility of a plea deal to avoid a second trial.
However, issues raised by special counsel Robert Mueller broke down the talks. The issues are unclear to this point. Manafort was convicted of tax and bank fraud last Tuesday. He was convicted with 18 counts total in the Virginia trial, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict for those 10. The vote was 11 to 1 in favor of conviction.
In the second trial, Manafort is charged with money laundering, conspiracy, making false statements, obstruction of justice and failure to register as a foreign agent. Court filings said Mueller’s team wants to introduce more than 1,000 pieces of evidence in the Washington, D.C., trial – three times as much evidence as in the the first trial in Virginia.
The reason for a possible plea deal for Manafort could be that he is willing to flip on Trump in Mueller’s Russia investigation. However, in most cases, defendants typically plead guilty to avoid a lengthy trial and secure a reduce sentence if prosecutors agree to such a deal.
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Legal experts believe that Manafort is hoping that the President will pardon him. Trump made several statements indicating that he may show leniency toward Manafort. Last week, Trump praised his former campaign manager after news broke that his longtime former lawyer, Michael Cohen, had struck a plea deal and would be willing to cooperate with investigators against Trump, calling Manafort a “brave man.”
I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. “Justice” took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to “break” – make up stories in order to get a “deal.” Such respect for a brave man!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 22. August 2018
“Manafort maximizes his chances of getting a pardon by going to trial,” said Alex Whiting, a longtime former federal prosecutor told Business Insider. “In his situation, given the facts of his case, the rational thing to do is plead guilty without cooperating and get the benefit of a guilty plea, or plead guilty and cooperate and get a bigger benefit. The only way it makes sense for him to go to trial is if he thinks he’s going to get a pardon.”
“If Trump pardons Manafort now, then Manafort can be subpoenaed to testify,” Whiting said. “And of course, if Manafort pleaded guilty, he may choose to cooperate. The pardon dangle encourages Manafort to hang tough, not cooperate, and reap the benefit later, maybe in a year or two.”
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