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As Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion with Russian Federation during the 2016 election drags on, more and more members of Trump's circle are getting pulled into the wreckage.

When the Eastern Virginia jury found him guilty in August, that conviction carried with it a maximum 80-year prison sentence.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now representing Mr Trump in the Russian Federation probe, said on Friday before the hearing that a guilty plea would not crush Manafort's chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon. On Friday morning, however, that refusal came to an abrupt end. Places like Virginia and NY, both of which have Democratic attorneys general, could prosecute Manafort on state tax violations, for instance.

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Manafort, Trump's top political operative from May to August 2016, has always been considered one of the bigger fish for Muller's office.

Both Manafort and Gates pleaded "Not Guilty" at the time.

In an exchange reported by Mediaite, when MSNBC host and political correspondent Steve Kornacki asked Dershowitz Friday if Manafort's cooperation agreement is "something the White House [should] be alarmed about right now", Dershowitz answered emphatically.

There was some concern about the risk to Mr Mueller's investigation faced going into the Manafort trials. Mueller was authorized to look into matters that arose from the Russian Federation investigation, leading to the charges against Manafort, which are not related to the Trump campaign or to Russian Federation.

Remember just three weeks ago, when Manafort stood convicted on bank and tax fraud, how Mr Trump lauded his decision not to flip.

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Manafort on Friday pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice brought by Mueller's team. Manafort also hid the millions of dollars he made from that work from the USA government and asked witnesses to lie to the jury in the trial he has now avoided.

In the new filing, prosecutors dropped the bulk of the charges against Manafort, filing new paperwork that includes just two counts that resemble in many ways the original allegations made in an indictment previous year.

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the president did nothing wrong.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the Manafort case has nothing to do with Trump.

Manafort, 69, pleaded guilty in a Washington DC, courthouse on Friday to conspiring to defraud the USA and conspiring to obstruct justice. In addition to failing to register as a foreign agent himself, Manafort admitted to taking steps to prevent the firms and lobbyists he hired from registering as foreign agents.

As with the Virginia case, the trial in Washington focused on criminal charges that largely predated Manafort's time with Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

Prosecutors will drop the five remaining charges in DC federal court against Manafort, including money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose foreign bank accounts, violating federal foreign lobbying law and lying to the Department of Justice.

Manafort's involvement in the June 9, 2016, Trump Tower meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., Natalia Veselnitskaya (a Russian lawyer and self-described informant), and Russian operatives is also of interest to Mueller. Trump's former fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted financial crimes and is helping federal prosecutors in NY.

Prosecutors applied "tremendous pressure on him" he claimed, but Manafort "refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a "deal".


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