Paul Manafort, who served as US President Donald Trump’s campaign manager, on Friday pleaded guilty to federal charges of money laundering and lobbying violations.
Manafort admitted to two of seven charges and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller in exchange for leniency in sentencing, as well as avoids a second trial in as many months.
The 69-year-old Republican political operative, who headed Trump’s campaign for two months in mid-2016, faced charges filed by Mueller as part of his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Manafort’s trial was expected to begin Monday.
It was not immediately clear what Manafort’s cooperation with the special counsel will provide to the investigation, which includes possible collusion of the Trump campaign with Russians and possible attempts to obstruct efforts to uncover it.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement that the development “had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated.”
The plea deal came during a pretrial conference Friday morning before a judge in Washington.
In the earlier trial, Manafort was found guilty of eight counts of tax evasion and bank fraud. Those charges also stemmed from Mueller’s investigation. The judge in that trial declared a mistrial on 10 counts on which the jury was unable to reach a verdict.
Under the plea deal announced Friday, Manafort gives up his right to any appeal of the earlier case in exchange for the government agreeing to drop the 10 outstanding charges.