President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has agreed to plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States and witness tampering, court documents indicated on Friday.
Seven charges in a previous indictment against Manafort were reduced to just two in a criminal information submitted to the court on Friday by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, signalling a deal had been agreed with Manafort’s lawyers to accept guilt.
The move avoids a potentially explosive trial that could embarrass Trump seven weeks before hotly contested national elections.
It comes three weeks after Manafort was convicted in a separate trial on eight counts related to financial fraud, and as Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia increasingly pressures the White House.
The criminal information reduced seven previous charges on money laundering, conspiracy, false statements and failure to register as a foreign agent.
The two revised charges are conspiracy to defraud the United States related to lying to investigators, money laundering and other financial crimes, and conspiracy to obstruct justice for attempting to influence witnesses in his case.