- Associated Press - Friday, September 14, 2018

WASHINGTON (AP) - Five people from President Donald Trump’s political orbit have now pleaded guilty to federal charges. Four of those pleas are part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The latest is former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who pleaded guilty Friday to federal charges days ahead of a scheduled trial.

A look at the five people who have pleaded guilty:

PAUL MANAFORT

Manafort was scheduled to go on trial this month on charges tied to Ukrainian political consulting work. He was convicted last month of eight financial crimes in a separate trial in Virginia and faces seven to 10 years in prison in that case. The charges are all unrelated to Trump’s campaign.

As part of the new deal, Manafort pleaded guilty to two conspiracy counts. The length of his sentence will ultimately depend on his cooperation. It is unclear what information Manafort is prepared to provide to investigators.

Trump has distanced himself from Manafort, who led his presidential campaign from May 2016 to August 2016. But he has also signaled that he’s sympathetic to Manafort’s case. It’s unclear how Friday’s deal might affect any Manafort pursuit of a pardon.

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GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS

George Papadopoulos, who served as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, was sentenced last week to 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian intermediaries.

Papadopoulos was the first campaign aide sentenced in Mueller’s investigation, and he was also the person who triggered the initial Russia investigation two years ago. Memos written by House Republicans and Democrats, now declassified, show that information about Papadopoulos’ contacts with Russian intermediaries triggered the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. That probe was later taken over by Mueller.

The White House has said that Papadopoulos was a low-level volunteer on the campaign.

At his sentencing hearing, Papadopoulos told the judge that he was “deeply embarrassed and ashamed” for lying. Prosecutor Andrew Goldstein said Papadopoulos’ cooperation “didn’t come close to the standard of substantial assistance.”

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MICHAEL FLYNN

Trump’s former national security adviser, a retired general who had led the Defense Intelligence Agency, was the first White House official charged in Mueller’s probe. His plea in December to one count of lying to the FBI requires Flynn to cooperate with prosecutors.

In August, the special counsel’s office said Flynn was still not ready to be sentenced, a sign that he is still cooperating.

Flynn was a national security surrogate during the later parts of the campaign. He was charged with lying about conversations with a Russian ambassador during the transition.

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RICK GATES

Gates, Manafort’s longtime business associate and a former Trump campaign adviser, pleaded guilty in February to federal conspiracy and false-statements charges, saying then he would help Mueller’s investigation in “any and all matters.”

Gates later turned against his former colleague, spending three days on the stand in Manafort’s Virginia trial. He told jurors how he committed crimes alongside Manafort for years and admitted doctoring documents, falsifying information and creating fake loans to lower his former boss’ tax bill, and acknowledged stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars without Manafort’s knowledge by filing fake expense reports.

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MICHAEL COHEN

Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer pleaded guilty in federal court last month to campaign-finance violations and other charges, saying Trump directed him to arrange the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model in the run-up to the 2016 campaign.

The account was the first time that a Trump associate had gone to court and implicated Trump in a crime. It’s still unclear, though, if a president can be prosecuted.

Cohen’s case is separate from Mueller’s investigation. In a deal reached with federal prosecutors, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts, including tax evasion. He could get about four to five years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Dec. 12.


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