President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is pleading guilty to two criminal charges under plea deal terms to include his cooperation as a witness in the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Manafort's decision to cooperate in exchange for a lighter prison sentence is “a stunning development in the long-running probe into whether any Trump associates may have conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election,” write Spencer Hsu and Devlin Barrett at the Washington Post:
Manafort’s defenders have long insisted that he would not cooperate with Mueller, and didn’t know any incriminating information against the president.
Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said at the beginning of Friday’s plea hearing that Manafort has agreed to cooperate with investigators.
The plea hearing before U.S. District Court judge Amy Berman Jackson short-circuits his second trial, which was scheduled to begin this month in the District on charges of money laundering and lobbying violations.
A criminal information — a legal document filed by prosecutors to detail the criminal conduct to be admitted by the defendant — was filed in advance of the plea. The document shows Manafort intends to plead guilty to two crimes of the seven he faced at trial: conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice.
Remember this, from way back in 2017?
Hold on to your butts.
It's about to get a whole lot weirder.