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Paul Manafort will cooperate with special counsel

Reporting by Paula Reid, Clare Hymes, Steven Portnoy and Jeff Pegues

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort entered a guilty plea to two felonies Friday. He will also be cooperating with the special counsel in its Russia investigation, prosecutor Andrew Weissman told the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Friday. 

Weissman referred to Manafort's plea deal as a cooperation agreement in court Friday, which could jeopardize his chances of a presidential pardon. In late July, an attorney for Manafort told CBS News' Paula Reid that there was "no chance" his client would cooperate with the special counsel in its Russia probe. It is not yet clear whether Manafort's cooperation is related to President Trump or whether he would provide information on some other aspect of the investigation.

However the plea agreement states that Manafort is required to "cooperate fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly" with the special counsel and any other government investigators. This means that the former lobbyist will have to participate in the ongoing investigation, as well as any other inquiries the government may have. Manafort has agreed to meet with law enforcement regarding the investigation without the presence of his counsel. However if he at any time wishes to have his lawyers present, the special counsel's office will allow it. 

Manafort must also provide the special counsel with any and all documents and materials necessary to the investigation. He will also be called to testify as a witness before the grand jury, and in any other trials that may arise. 

The plea agreement also says that Manafort will have to accept any delays in sentencing -- timing is at the discretion of the government. His cooperation is not to end once he is sentenced in either Virginia or D.C. but will continue to assist the government as long as the government sees fit. 

Manafort appeared at the hearing with three attorneys, including Kevin Downing, who said nothing during the hearing.  The government brought a large contingent, though special counsel Robert Mueller was not present. Several lawyers, FBI and IRS agents who had worked on the case attended the hearing, occupying two-and-a-half rows in the audience. They were all hugging and congratulating each other at the end of the hearing. 

The president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was asked by Reid whether he had been told by Manafort's attorneys that the cooperation deal will not require him to share anything related to the president. "I'm confident," he replied, without saying whether Manafort's lawyers had given him this assurance.

Manafort is pleading guilty to charges the special counsel filed Friday on conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy to obstruct justice. The former includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to file Foreign Bank Accounts, and the latter includes the charge of witness tampering.

In August, Manafort was found guilty on eight out of 18 counts of financial crimes in his first trial in Virginia. The jury was deadlocked on the remaining 10 counts, which ended in mistrial. As part of his plea agreement, Manafort has admitted his guilt to the rest of the bank fraud counts in Virginia, and in return, the government will not retry the other counts in which a mistrial was declared.

Manafort is still subject to whatever sentence is imposed in the Virginia trial. And the judge may decide to run those sentences consecutively or concurrently. In Washington, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that based on the guidelines, which are determined based on factors such as Manafort's involvement and the nature of the crimes, he faces a range of 210 to 262 months and a $400,000 fine. But that is more than the statutory maximum which is five years, which the judge cannot exceed.   

The charges were filed in a superseding criminal information -- a formal criminal charge -- which lays out the facts of the offense and is often the precursor to the announcement of a deal. 

In the courtroom, Manafort stared straight ahead, while Weissman read a condensed version of the litany of illegal acts to which Manafort is pleading guilty. Jackson called it the "longest and most detailed" reading of criminal information she had ever heard. 

She asked Manafort a series of questions -- whether what the special counsel said was true and accurate, whether he did in fact conduct work on behalf of Ukraine, whether he conspired to tamper with witnesses, and whether he conspired to avoid U.S. tax laws. To all of these questions Manafort responded "I did."

Jackson read Manafort's plea agreement. She told him, "You are agreeing to cooperate fully and truthfully" with the special counsel's office. "I do," he replied.

As part of routine plea hearing questions, she asked Manafort, "Has anybody made any promises to you?" He shook his head and said "no."

The judge asked if he was pleading guilty "because you are guilty and for no other reason?" Manafort said "I am." 

On Thursday, CBS News reported that Manafort had reached the deal with federal prosecutors to avoid his upcoming trial on charges related to his foreign lobbying work.

Downing told reporters after the hearing that his client has "accepted responsibility" for conduct dating back "many years," and he "wanted to make sure that his family was able to remain safe and live a good life." 

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released this statement on Manafort. "This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 Presidential campaign," she wrote. "It is totally unrelated."

The charges in the information say that Manafort will have to forfeit property that was derived from or traceable to his offenses. The special counsel listed some of the property that he could have to give up, including the following:

  • Brooklyn, New York apartment on Union Street
  • New York apartment on Howard Street
  • Watermill, New York property at 174 Job Lane
  • Arlington, Virginia property on Edgewood Street.
  • Funds from three bank accounts, a life insurance policy and an investment account

The plea deal precludes the need for the second trial, sparing Manafort the steep legal fees of a second round of prosecution.

Manafort has been in jail since June 15, when Jackson revoked his bail for violating the terms of his release.

There was no sentencing Friday, and Manafort is still detained in prison in Alexandria. There will be a joint status report filed in 60 days.

Major Garrett and Katie Ross Dominick contributed to this report.

Here's the superseding criminal information: