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Donald Trump's ex-campaign chief Paul Manafort pleads guilty to conspiracy against the United States

Mirror logo Mirror 14/09/2018 Andrew Snell
a man wearing a suit and tie in front of a flag: Paul Manafort © Getty Images North America Paul Manafort

President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty to two criminal counts of conspiracy in a court hearing in Washington DC.

The charges are one count of conspiracy against the United States and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, according to documents filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.

Video: Manafort Agrees to Guilty Plea to Avoid Second Criminal Trial ( Bloomberg)

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Manafort, convicted by a Virginia jury last month on bank and tax fraud charges, is on trial for a second time on related charges today.

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Both cases stem from the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 US Election.

In the first trial last month, he was convicted of five counts of tax fraud, two bank fraud charges and one of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. He could face decades in prison when sentenced for those crimes.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie © Credits: Getty

According to today's court filing, the change of conspiracy against the United States includes money laundering, tax fraud, failing to disclose his foreign bank accounts, and acting as an unregistered lobbyist for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

The second count, for conspiracy to obstruct justice, relates to attempts to tamper with witnesses related to his foreign lobbying.

Jury selection was due to begin on Monday on charges including conspiring to launder money, conspiring to defraud the United States, failing to register as a foreign agent and witness tampering.

It is not yet known what agreement Manafort may have made to change his plea.

Robert Mueller smiling for the camera © Credits: REUTERS

Manafort's decision could be a blow to Trump, who last month praised his former aide for not entering into an agreement with prosecutors, as the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had.

The president tweeted last month: "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to 'break' - make up stories in order to get a 'deal. Such respect for a brave man!"

Manafort, 69, is a is a veteran lobbyist, political consultant and a laywer.

In March 2016 he accepted a role on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team as campaign manager, holding the role for three months before resigning in August.

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