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MSNBC legal analysts explain the significance of Manafort’s plea deal – and why it’s bad news for Trump

MSNBC analysts Ken Dilanian and Dan Goldman broke down the significance of Paul Manafort’s admission of guilt to charges of money laundering, tax fraud, and more in the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Both believed it indicated a likely agreement to cooperate with the investigation.

“He is admitting essentially to the kitchen sink, all the conduct the government charged him with in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, including failure to register as a lobbyist, money laundering,” Dilanian said. “But he’s only pleading guilty to two counts.” Dilanian added that that plea “could indicate he cut a deal to cooperate with Mueller.”

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Goldman agreed the plea was “significant”. “What sticks out to me, it includes some conduct that he was only charged with in the Virginia case, and on which the jury hung,” Goldman said. “That and the benefit he is getting at least from the charging document is that the sentence is going to be capped statutorily capped at ten years.”

What nobody knows yet, Goldman suggested, “whether or not he is cooperating.”

“If he wants to actually reduce his sentence, the only way to do that through the criminal justice system is through cooperation,” he added. “As I read this, because it includes all of his conduct, including some conduct in Virginia, this reads to me like it could be cooperation.”

All of this, both agreed, could spell trouble for President Trump.

“The conduct that the government is alleging and lays out in this information continued up to and including the time he was on the Trump campaign. That includes defrauding banks,” Goldman said noting that when Manafort signed up with the campaign he worked pro bono even though he was the government alleges he was broke and lying to banks to fund his lavish lifestyle.

“What everybody cares about here, right, is whether Paul Manafort is going to cooperate with Mueller,” Dilanian said. “Paul Manafort, of all the people who work for Donald Trump, had the most connections with Russians and Ukrainian oligarchs. He was experienced in that world. So if there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians, most analysts believe Paul Manafort would have some knowledge about it.”

“The question remaining today is if he does, will he share that with the special counsel?”

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