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Tag: paul manafort

Mueller’s Team Questioning Manafort, Others about Longtime Trump Supporter Roger Stone

Roger Stone

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been questioning former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and others about Roger Stone.

Stone, who also worked on Trump’s campaign and previously was a partner at Manafort’s lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly, has been the subject of Mueller’s investigation.

Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s probe into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.   

“I am highly confident Mr. Manafort is aware of no wrongdoing on my part during the 2016 campaign, or at any other time, and therefore there is no wrongdoing to know about,” Stone told ABC News. “Narratives to the contrary by some in the media are false and defamatory.” 

Mueller’s team wants to know whether Stone had advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to release Hillary Clinton’s emails, which Russian hackers had stolen. At the time, Stone publicly suggested he had been in touch with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over the emails, which were released to hurt Clinton’s chances of winning the 2016 presidential election.

Nearly a dozen people close to Stone – many of whom have appeared before a federal grand jury – have been questioned by Mueller’s team.

Once-Defiant Manafort Meets with Mueller’s Team As Part of Cooperation Agreement

Ex-Trump campaign leader Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The once-defiant Paul Manafort met Monday with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team less than a month after he reached a cooperation agreement with prosecutors.

As part of a plea deal reached last month, Manafort agreed to cooperate with the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Manafort and his lawyers sat down with Mueller’s prosecutors, but neither side would comment on the substance of the meeting.

Under the plea deal, Manafort must cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly…in any and all matters as to which the government deems the cooperation relevant.”

Manafort is expected to be sentenced after the November midterm elections. 

Manafort served as the Trump campaign chairman in the 2016 presidential election.

Other Stories of Interest

Ex-FBI Chief Comey: Russia Probe Appears to Be Closing in on Trump

Former FBI Director James Comey.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation appears to be closing in on President Trump as the probe may be nearing its end, former FBI Director James Comey said Wednesday.

In an interview with St. Louis Public Radio, Comey speculated that the cooperation and plea deal with Trump’s former campaign boss, Paul Manafort, are a good indication that the president is in Mueller’s crosshairs.

“I think there’s an argument to be made that the conviction — the plea and cooperation by Paul Manafort — may represent that we’re in the fourth quarter,” Comey said. “The way you normally do investigations is you work from the bottom up, and so they’re getting pretty high.”
At this point, it’s just speculation based on how investigation typically work, Comey added.

Update: Ex-Trump Campaign Chief Paul Manafort Pleads Guilty, Agrees to Cooperate

Paul Manafort

Update: 4:02 p.m. Friday —  In a move that could certainly spell more trouble for President Donald Trump, former campaign chief Paul Manafort pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in the Robert Mueller probe.

Manfort pleaded guilty to two charges — conspiring to defraud the United States and conspiring to obstruct justice.

“I plead guilty,” Manafort told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson at a hearing Friday morning hearing in federal court in the District, according to the Washington Post.

Manafort admitted committing years of financial crimes to hide his money from the IRS and promised to tell the government about “his participation in and knowledge of all criminal activities.”


From Friday Morning

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has reached a tentative plea deal ahead of his second trial, sources familiar with the negotiations told ABC News

Details of the plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller is expected to be revealed in court today.

If approved, the tentative deal will head off Manafort’s second trial after a jury found him guilty of eight criminal counts in his first trial last month.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Manafort reached the deal in exchange for cooperation or just to avoid the stress and costs of another trial.

The second trial primarily involves work he did for pro-Russia politicians in the Ukraine and accusations of money laundering.

Check back for updates.

Mueller Ended Plea Deal Talks with Manafort Before Second Trial in September

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Special Counsel Robert Mueller put an end to negotiations for a last-minute plea deal between his prosecutors and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Manafort’s legal team began plea discussions while jurors were deliberating after closing arguments in their client’s fraud case in which he ultimately was convicted of eight of 18 counts tax and bank fraud, the Wall Street Journal reports

The plea talks involved Manafort’s upcoming Washington D.C. trial, but they fell apart after Mueller expressed unknown concerns and objected to a potential deal.

The specifics of the potential deal were unclear.

Manafort’s convictions last week came about a month before his second trial is set to begin Sept. 17 on charges of lying to federal investigators and failing to register as a foreign agent.

Manafort Judge Mulled Declaring a Mistrial Over Chatty Jurors

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

The judge in the Paul Manafort trial was so concerned about chatty jurors that he considered declaring a mistrial in the middle of the fraud case against the former Trump campaign chairman.

Judge T.S. Ellis had learned that some jurors during the trial were commenting on the case and politics, and one juror stated “the defense was weak,” according to newly unsealed court transcripts.

Jurors are prohibited from discussing the case until deliberations begin.

Ellis interviewed each juror before deciding not to declare a mistrial.

The concerns about chatty jury members explains why the trial was delayed for five hours on Aug. 10 and continued with interruptions for the next three days.

Ellis also discussed the revelations with the defense and prosecution, expressing his concerns about jurors violating the rules, which are meant to keep jurors from influencing each other before the closing arguments.

Manafort’s defense attorney, Richard Wrestling, argued the chit-chat was a sufficient reason to declare a mistrial.

“This clearly is crossing the line if it, in fact, happened,” Wrestling told the judge. “It suggests someone who has left beside — behind the presumption of innocence the defendant is entitled to until the evidence is all in.”

After one-on-one interviews with the jurors, the judge decided the jury had maintained its objectivity and wasn’t influencing each other.

Lone Holdout Prevented Jury from Convicting Manafort on All 18 Counts

Juror Paula Duncan

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A lone holdout in the trial of Paul Manafort prevented the jury from convicting the former Trump campaign chairman on all 18 counts of bank and tax fraud, according to a juror who described herself as a supporter of President Trump.

“We all tried to convince her to look at the paper trail. We laid it out in front of her again and again, and she still said that she had a reasonable doubt,” juror Paula Duncan said in an interview on Fox News. “We didn’t want it to be hung, so we tried for an extended period of time to convince her. But in the end she held out, and that’s why we have 10 counts that did not get a verdict.”

The 12-member jury unanimously reached a guilty verdict in eight of the 18 counts but could not reach consensus on the other 10 counts because one juror who said she had reasonable doubts about the other 1o counts could not be swayed, Duncan said.

As a result, Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on the 10 counts.

Duncan described the deliberations as intense and emotional.

“It was a very emotionally charged jury room – there were some tears,” Duncan said.

Duncan, an avid Trump supporter, said she was skeptical of the prosecutors’ motives in charging Manafort but had no choice in reaching the guilty verdicts because the prosecutors’ case was too strong. 

“Certainly Mr. Manafort got caught breaking the law, but he wouldn’t have gotten caught if they weren’t after President Trump,” Duncan insisted, adding that she believed the special counsel’s case was a “witch hunt to try to find Russian collusion.”

Manafort was ordered to stay in jail until a sentencing hearing was scheduled for sometime later this year. The 69-year-old who spent more than $15 million to fund his lavish lifestyle, could end up sending the rest of his life behind bars.

Manafort also faces another trial later this year on separate charges.

How One Disastrous Hour Could Change Everything for President Trump

President Trump

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

It was a devastating hour for President Trump.

Between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesday, Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty of eight counts of bank and tax fraud.

At roughly the same time, the president’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, implicated Trump in a payoff scheme to silence women who said they had an affair with him.

The revelations served to undermine Trump’s repeated claims that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.” And even more, it provided more evidence to special counsel Robert Mueller, who already is investigating whether the president colluded with Russia and obstructed justice.

The news also could increase the chances that Trump, depending on what happens during the midterm elections, could face impeachment proceedings. Republicans who have defended Trump are now going to find it much more difficult to stand behind the president.

Sen. Mark Warner, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the Manafort has severely damaged Trump’s credibility.

“This verdict makes it absolutely clear that the Mueller probe is not a ‘witch hunt’ — it is a serious investigation that is rooting out corruption and Russian influence on our political system at the highest levels,” Warner said in a statement obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “The President’s campaign manager was just convicted of serious federal crimes by a jury of his peers, despite the President’s continued attempts to undermine the investigation which has brought Mr. Manafort to justice. Any attempt by the President to pardon Mr. Manafort or interfere in the investigation into his campaign would be a gross abuse of power and require immediate action by Congress.”

But most damaging to Trump were Cohen’s statements to a judge while in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday. The 51-year-old attorney said he had paid $130,000 and $150,000 in hush money to women who claimed they had affairs with Trump. Cohen said the money was meant to buy their silence “with the purpose of influencing the election.”

Cohen faces about four to five years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of tax fraud, one of bank fraud and two counts of violating campaign finance laws.