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Paul Manafort arrived for a hearing at District Court in Washington, D.C. He will not go on trial after all after having reached a plea agreement with the Justice Department. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images hide caption
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
Updated at 10:41 a.m. ET
Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has concluded a plea deal that will avert a trial in Washington, D.C., on charges related to his lobbying work in Ukraine and allegations of witness tampering in the case against him.
Manafort is due in federal court for what the Justice Department called “an arraignment and plea agreement hearing” on Friday morning, following the release of new charging documents against him.
The latest superseding criminal information released on Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller distilled the charges against Manafort down to two — conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice.
Manafort already faces as many as 10 years in prison in a bank and tax fraud case after a federal jury in Alexandria, Va., found him guilty in August.
It wasn’t immediately clear what punishment Manafort may receive related to his D.C. case or whether he may cooperate with the Justice Department.
Manafort’s deal means that jurors and the public may not hear some details about Manafort’s activities on behalf of the pro-Kremlin government in Ukraine and his ties, financial and otherwise, to oligarchs in the region.
This, in turn, may endear him to President Trump, who has already called Manafort a “good man” who has been unfairly targeted by the Justice Department. Trump has raised the idea of a pardon for Manafort with White House aides and others, a source told NPR.
The White House said it had no comment about the news and referred reporters to the president’s outside legal team.
Manafort, 69, earned tens of millions of dollars lobbying for foreign governments and spent that money freely, including on a $15,000 ostrich coat, landscaping and real estate.
But by 2016, his financial situation grew dire. He volunteered that year to work for free on the Trump campaign, shepherding the candidate through the Republican National Convention before being pushed aside as questions about his influence-peddling emerged.
The longtime political operator who had advised presidents from Gerald Ford to Trump has been incarcerated since mid-June, when D.C. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled he posed a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Behind bars in the Alexandria, Va., detention center, Manafort’s dark hair has sprouted patches of gray. During his Virginia trial, he sometimes refused to wear socks because he didn’t like the look of the white jail-issued socks with his dark footwear.
Manafort’s legal team blamed most of his problems on former business partner Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty this year and testified against Manafort in Virginia.
“I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence,” Manafort said after the Gates plea deal earlier this year.
A juror in the Virginia case said she discounted testimony from Gates but found the documents that prosecutors introduced to be “overwhelming” in favor of conviction.
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sources: Business news from npr.org