Friday morning marked a landmark moment for Donald Trump, when his 2016 campaign chief Paul Manafort not only entered guilty pleas to a pair of serious conspiracy charges, as Inquisitr reported, but agreed to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into collusion between Trump's presidential campaign and the Russian government in an effort to tip the election in his favor.
Here are three takeaways from the deal and what Manafort's cooperation with the special counsel means for his sentencing, the Mueller investigation, and a potential pardon from the president.
Prosecutors applied "tremendous pressure on him" he claimed, but Manafort "refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a "deal". This has also been one of President Trump's greatest fears.
Manafort says he intends to plead guilty to charges including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice relating to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine.
The key question will be what Manafort actually can tell Mueller and his associates. "It is totally unrelated", said Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
Trump has derided the investigation as a "witch hunt".
From the point of view of Mueller, this is a "big win", said Dershowitz. The plea agreement requires him to cooperate completely with the government, which includes giving interviews without his attorney present and testifying before any grand juries or at any trials.
Manafort had previously been found guilty of eight counts of bank and tax fraud charges last month in a trial in Virginia. The two conspiracy counts he admitted to on Friday carry up to five years, though Manafort's sentence will ultimately depend on his cooperation. Places like Virginia and NY, both of which have Democratic attorneys general, could prosecute Manafort on state tax violations, for instance.
A legal source, supportive of the President and familiar with the Manafort case, said the Trump team does not believe Manafort has anything significant on the President to share with the special counsel.
At the time of Gates' plea, Manafort issued a statement saying he "had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence". He sat straight or leaned his chin on his right hand throughout a lengthy recital of the charges to which he pleaded guilty.
The sentencing guidelines outlined in the plea indicate Manafort could face between 17 and nearly 22 years in prison for the crimes and pay a fine of $42,400.
"If Manafort is willing to give Mueller information about Trump's contacts with Russian Federation, whether the contacts were direct or indirect, then this really is a disaster for Trump and his associates".
"Manafort's guilty plea - with cooperation! - is an absolute nightmare for Trump, and his family", former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega told the Guardian in an email. It was discontinued and then reinstated in 2016 after investigators caught a series of odd connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.
Moscow rejects the conclusions of US intelligence agencies that it interfered in the American democratic process and Trump denies campaign collusion.
Added Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani: "Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign".
Manafort was among the participants, for instance, in a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians and the president's oldest son and son-in-law that was arranged so the campaign could receive derogatory information about Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors have filed new charging documents against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, signaling he may plead guilty ahead of a second trial next week. During the convention, the party's platform on Ukraine was altered in a way that made it more in line with Russian interests.
The only thing the agreement appears to lack is a pledge by Manafort to conduct the members of the prosecution to team to his favorite tailors.
"If the president were to pardon him now and allow him to walk free tomorrow, Bob Mueller already knows the answers to those questions", Miller said. This plea agreement doesn't preclude that eventuality, although if Manafort incriminates others in Mr Trump's circle - or the president himself - a pardon seems unlikely in the extreme.
Friday's deal, to charges tied to Ukrainian political consulting work but unrelated to the campaign, was struck just days before Manafort was to have stood trial for a second time.
"Mr. Manafort engaged in a variety of criminal schemes".