Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to 'plead guilty'

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In a dramatic reversal, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is poised to plead guilty Friday morning to federal criminal charges arising from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe.

Manafort is expected to plead guilty to a federal conspiracy charge that accused him of money laundering, tax fraud, and lying to investigators, according to a document filed in federal court.

In the trial scheduled in Washington, Manafort faces charges of conspiring against the United States, money laundering, failing to register as a lobbyist, making false statements and conspiring to obstruct justice by trying to influence witnesses. Manafort and Mueller had also been in plea talks while the jury was in deliberations during his Virginia trial, but those negotiations had fallen through.

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.

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.

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Manafort would become the most prominent former Trump campaign official to plead guilty in Mueller's investigation, which has cast a shadow over Trump's presidency.

It's unclear which charges Manafort is pleading guilty to, and whether his deal means that he will actually cooperate with prosecutors.

Manafort has aggressively fought the charges against him and taken shots at his co-defendant, Rick Gates, who cut a deal with prosecutors earlier this year that included a cooperation agreement.

According to the court documents cited by USA media, Manafort will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy against the U.S. and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. "It shows you've admitted your guilt", he said on Friday before a deal was announced.

Manafort joined the Trump campaign in late March of 2016, and ascended to chairman before leaving in August as revelations emerged about his previous consulting work in the Ukraine. He declined further comment until after the hearing.

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