Manafort lawyers head to court as Russia probe picks up pace

- Advertisement -

Lawyers for Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort are heading to court at a time of frenetic activity in US special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion investigation.

Prosecutors this week obtained a guilty plea from Mr Trump’s longtime fixer Michael Cohen and appear to be lining up charges against another Trump supporter.

Mr Manafort’s plea deal fell apart after prosecutors said he lied to investigators.

They are expected to provide some detail about those false statements on Friday.

The hearing in a federal court in Washington comes as Mr Trump faces questions about whether he will pardon Mr Manafort, and if he is attempting to downplay Michael Cohen’s guilty plea.

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to US congress about work he did on an aborted project to build a Trump Tower in Russia (AP)

They do not directly accuse the president of any criminal wrongdoing or indicate that Mr Trump faces legal jeopardy.

However, the US president has continually surfaced in Mr Mueller’s investigation, with references to him in Cohen’s plea on Thursday and in a draft plea offer — made public this week — extended to conservative writer and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump expressed sympathy for Mr Manafort, Mr Corsi and his longtime confidant Roger Stone, telling the New York Post that they are “very brave” for resisting the Mueller investigation. He also said a pardon for Mr Manafort was not “off the table”.

Mr Trump told reporters on Thursday “it’s very sad what happened to Paul (Manafort)”, but he stressed that he has not offered him a pardon and was only responding to a question in the Post interview about whether he would.

Donald Trump
Mr Trump said a pardon for Mr Manafort was ‘not off the table’ (AP)

Mr Trump has spent recent weeks casting Robert Mueller’s team as hell-bent on destroying the lives of those in his orbit.

Armed with information passed along by Mr Manafort’s attorneys to the president’s legal team, Mr Trump has accused prosecutors of dirty tactics and pressuring witnesses to lie.

The arrangement with Mr Manafort’s lawyers is unusual because it continued after he pleaded guilty to two felony charges and agreed to co-operate with the government.

Mr Trump’s legal team also has received help from Mr Corsi. He said that while in contact with Mr Mueller’s team, he directed his lawyer to informally share information with the president’s attorneys, including Jay Sekulow.

Jerome Corsi
Jerome Corsi (AP)

Mr Mueller and US intelligence agencies have said Russia was the source of the material provided to WikiLeaks.

Both men have denied having any contact with WikiLeaks or having any foreknowledge of its plans. Mr Corsi also denies making false statements to investigators.

The special counsel’s team raised the prospect of filing additional charges against Mr Manafort for false statements he made after co-operating with the government. Mr Manafort has denied lying.

Mr Mueller’s team also said it will lay out the nature of the statements in a later court filing.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.