President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort has pleaded guilty to two federal charges as part of a cooperation deal with prosecutors. In Washington, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said that based on the guidelines, which are determined based on factors such as Manafort's involvement and the nature of the crimes, he faces a range of 210 to 262 months and a $400,000 fine.
None of the charges in question were directly related to the Trump campaign, and it's unclear whether the "cooperation agreement" announced by federal prosecutors Friday will see Manafort offer information on campaign activities specifically.
Still, Friday's move gives Mueller another successful conviction while allowing Manafort to avoid facing another costly public trial that this time focused on allegations that he acted as an unregistered foreign agent for Ukrainian interests.
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.
Manafort's decision could be mixed news for Trump, who tapped the consultant to serve as his campaign chairman in June 2016 as he was securing the GOP presidential nomination. To all of these questions Manafort responded "I did".
The president agreed to wait at least until the investigation concludes, Giuliani has said.
National security reporter and legal analyst Marcy Wheeler said she believes that Mueller made this deal "pardon proof in a couple ways that are going to become obvious in the near future".More news: Two Koreas seek accelerated denuclearization, Seoul says
Manafort had other charges dropped but he still looks likely to 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 US politics by storm in 2016.
As part of his deal, the government plans to seize four properties, including a almost $2 million house in Arlington, Virginia, owned by one of Manafort's daughters. The result also ensures the investigation will extend far beyond the November congressional elections despite entreaties from the president's lawyers that Mueller bring his probe to a close.
Manafort had faced seven charges in Washington and faces another 10 possible charges in Virginia which had been declared in mistrial. "He's accepted responsibility. This is for conduct that dates back many years and everybody should remember that", said attorney Kevin Downing.
Manafort, 69, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Washington on Friday to counts of conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice, becoming the most prominent former of Mr Trump's campaign officials to plead guilty in Mr Mueller's investigation. As part of his plea agreement, Manafort has admitted his guilt to the rest of the bank fraud counts in Virginia, and in return, the government will not retry the other counts in which a mistrial was declared.
"This had absolutely nothing to do with the President or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign", White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said of the Manafort news on Friday. Jurors deadlocked on 10 other counts.
Earlier this year, Manafort criticized his former business associate Rick Gates for cooperating with investigators, saying, "I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence".
News that Manafort has chose to break is quite surprising given that he had the option when facing his first trial over the summer.