Manafort forfeits Trump Tower apartment in plea deal

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Prosecutors on special counsel Robert Mueller's team filed a superseding criminal information against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Friday, a document that signals Manafort will plead guilty and avoid a second trial expected to begin on Monday.

But Friday's announcement was a political blow to the presidency ahead of 6 November mid-term elections that could determine whether or not Republicans maintain control of Congress.

The two revised charges are conspiracy to defraud the United States related to lying to investigators, money laundering and other financial crimes, and conspiracy to obstruct justice for attempting to influence witnesses in his case.

"It is totally unrelated", said Sarah Sanders said, White House spokesperson.

All the while, the investigation has been under a barrage of attacks by Trump, who has openly mulled shutting it down, called it a "rigged witch hunt" and an "illegal scam" and accused Mueller of political bias and leading a team of "angry Democrats".

Manafort had other charges dropped but he could still go to prison, marking a steep fall from grace for a multi-millionaire who was often at Trump's side as the Republican candidate took USA politics by storm in 2016.

It remains unclear if the deal will include Manafort's cooperation with Mueller's probe, dealing a blow to Trump ahead of congressional elections on November 6.

The move allows him to avoid a second criminal trial.

Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's investigation in exchange for reduced charges, according to the New York Times.

"He's accepted responsibility", said Manafort defence lawyer Kevin Downing after Thursday's court appearance. CNN is reporting that Manafort has already given information to the Department of Justice (reminder that a report from earlier this year contained a nugget saying that Trump has told friends and aides that Manafort can incriminate him).

The once-powerful Republican operative was found guilty last month of tax and bank fraud charges that could land him in prison for up to 80 years.

Trump last month praised Manafort as "a courageous man" for not entering into an agreement with prosecutors while blasting the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen for doing so.

For a while it looked like Manafort was going to play the good soldier.

Manafort is expected to appear in court later Friday morning (local time).

FILE - Paul Manafort, right, campaign manager to Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, and his assistant Rick Gates stand on the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, July 17, 2016.

The longtime lobbyist resigned from his position as campaign chairman in August 2016 amid increasing scrutiny of his work on behalf of a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine.

The charges do not relate to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The president agreed to wait at least until the investigation concludes, Giuliani has said.

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 Russian Federation probe.

Trump has denied colluding with the Russians and the Russians have denied interfering.

After all, while Mueller has played the jail card, Manafort is still likely to be holding the Trump Card - - and no one remains in prison when that card is played.

Manafort, Trump's top political operative from May to August 2016, has always been considered one of the bigger fish for Muller's office. The president has not said whether he would do so.

Which leads to questions about a possible pardon for Manafort. One of the prosecutors, Andrew Weissman, confirmed in court that Manafort was cooperating with the government's investigation.