00:02 GMT19 June 2021
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    Paul Manafort, US President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, pleaded guilty on Friday to two felony counts of conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller in the latter’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

    Paul Manafort, US President Donald Trump's former campaign manager, pleaded guilty on Friday to two felony counts of conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller in the latter's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

    Manafort's plea came days before his second trial on charges related to lobbying work he performed for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych a well as alleged witness tampering, and is expected to begin in Washington DC. The 69-year-old Connecticut native was previously found guilty in a Virginia court on eight counts, including tax evasion and bank fraud in August.

    While it's been suggested that Manafort — the first person to cooperate with Mueller who was present for the notorious June 2016 Trump Tower meeting — could be key to proving allegations of collusion between Trump and Russia, not everybody is so sure about it.


    Daniel Lazare, journalist and author of "The Frozen Republic," told Radio Sputnik's Loud & Clear on Friday that not much is likely to come out of Manafort's looming tell-all with the Mueller camp.

    "It's just one more chapter in the endless Washington saga about Russiagate, this great meandering story straight out of Tolstoy," Lazare told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou, before asserting that the chances of charges being laid against Trump are slim.

    "Could [Mueller] find a thread there [in Manafort's story] on which to hang an obstruction charge against Trump? I suppose it's possible […] to me it's a very slender thread."

    The plea deal, which states that Manafort will agree to cooperate with all matters investigators see fit, including testifying before a grand jury, comes weeks after Trump referred to him as a "brave man" who would not "make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.'"

    By the time news broke of the deal, Trump's legal team went from hailing Manafort as a someone willing to "tell the truth" to completely dropping his name from their statements, CNBC reported.

    The original statement read: ""Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: the President did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth."

    A corrected statement given later to the publication reads: "Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: the President did nothing wrong."

    For Lazare, the Mueller investigation is "chasing after shadows, chasing after non-events, trying to find a loose thread."

    "I'm just unimpressed," he added.


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    Russiagate, plea deal, White House, Paul Manafort, Robert Mueller, Donald Trump, Viktor Yanukovych, Trump Tower, Washington DC, US, New York
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