US: Ex-Trump campaign chairman expected to plead guilty

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – Former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is expected to plead guilty to two criminal counts Friday.

Manafort was set to begin a second criminal trial in the District of Columbia later this month after being convicted of charges that could bring an effective life sentence in a separate case in August.

Manafort is expected to attend a plea hearing before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson at the D.C. federal courthouse at 11 a.m. (1500GMT).

If the judge agrees to the plea deal Manafort is seeking to strike with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office, his trial slated to begin Monday would not go ahead.

Mueller's office earlier Friday released court documents that contained charges in a superseding criminal information, which must have a defendant's consent to be released and generally indicates a plea deal has been agreed to with prosecutors.

The charges include conspiracy against the United States, and conspiracy to obstruct justice. He faced a total of seven charges.

Manafort is likely to plead guilty to concealing millions of dollars from tax officials by funneling the funds into overseas accounts. "MANAFORT cheated the United States out of over $15 million in taxes," the criminal information states.

"Manafort laundered more than $30 million to buy property, goods, and services in the United States, income that he concealed from the United States Treasury, the Department of Justice, and others," the document states.

Manafort, a former political consultant with a lengthy history in Washington, had fought against Mueller's probe and earlier refused to cooperate.

It is unclear if his plea deal will include cooperating with Mueller's probe, which Trump has derided as a "witch hunt."