Comey believes Muller probe is nearing completion after Manafort plea deal

Fired FBI Director James Comey has said he believes Paul Manafort’s plea deal signals that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is ‘in the fourth quarter’.

‘There’s an argument to be made that the conviction – the plea and cooperation by Paul Manafort – may represent that we’re in the fourth quarter,’ Comey said in an interview on Wednesday with St. Louis Public Radio

Former Trump campaign chairman Manfort on Friday signed a plea deal to avoid a second trial, after holding out through multiple indictments, months in jail and a conviction on eight counts of financial crime.

‘The way you normally do investigations is you work from the bottom up, and so they’re getting pretty high,’ Comey said. 

Jim Comey

Jim Comey

Robert Mueller

Robert Mueller

Fired FBI Director James Comey (left) has said he believes that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s (right) investigation is ‘in the fourth quarter’

Manafort agreed to a plea deal on Friday to avoid a second trial for financial crimes

Manafort agreed to a plea deal on Friday to avoid a second trial for financial crimes

Manafort agreed to a plea deal on Friday to avoid a second trial for financial crimes

‘But again, the reason I’m hesitant to even say that is – Bob Mueller’s conducted his investigation like a pro – you know nothing about it except through his public filings, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And so I can’t say with certainty where he is,’ Comey added.

Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller as part of the plea deal, but President Donald Trump has said he doesn’t believe anything Manafort has to say would be damaging to himself.

‘Paul Manafort was with me for a short period of time. He did a good job. I was, you know, very happy with the job he did,’ Trump said on Wednesday. ‘And I will tell you this: I believe that he will tell the truth and if he tells the truth, no problem.’  

In the plea deal, Manafort pleaded guilty to two felony charges related to his unregistered Ukrainian lobbying and millions of dollars he laundered through offshore accounts. 

Those charges and the counts he has been convicted on all relate to events years before the 2016 election. 

Trump talks to media before boarding Marine One on Wednesday. The President said he is 'not concerned' about Manafort cooperating with Mueller

Trump talks to media before boarding Marine One on Wednesday. The President said he is 'not concerned' about Manafort cooperating with Mueller

Trump talks to media before boarding Marine One on Wednesday. The President said he is ‘not concerned’ about Manafort cooperating with Mueller

Comey led the investigation into alleged Russian election interference for 10 months before Trump fired him in May of 2017.

That led to the appointment of Mueller, who was tasked with investigating any ‘coordination/links’ between the Trump campaign and the Russian goverment.

Although the probe has so far brought no charges to substantiate the notion of such collusion, Comey said that he believes it’s been ‘incredibly productive’. 

‘In just over a year, it’s produced all kinds of charges and convictions,’ Comey pointed out.

On Wednesday, Trump batted away a question about whether he was considering a pardon for Manafort.

‘I don’t want to talk about it now,’ the president said.

ROBERT MUELLER’S PROBE SO FAR: EIGHT CONVICTIONS – INCLUDING THREE TOP TRUMP AIDES, A JAILED ATTORNEY AND 25 RUSSIANS ACCUSED

GUILTY: MICHAEL FLYNN 

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in December 2017. Awaiting sentence

Flynn was President Trump’s former National Security Advisor and Robert Mueller’s most senior scalp to date. He previously served when he was a three star general as President Obama’s director of the Defense Intelligence Agency but was fired. 

He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador in December 2016. He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY: MICHAEL COHEN

Pleaded guilty to eight counts including fraud and two campaign finance violations in August 2018. Awaiting sentence

Cohen was Trump’s longtime personal attorney, starting working for him and the Trump Organization in 2007. He is the longest-serving member of Trump’s inner circle to be implicated by Mueller. Cohen professed unswerving devotion to Trump – and organized payments to silence two women who alleged they had sex with the-then candidate: porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.He admitted that payments to both women were felony campaign finance violations – and admitted that he acted at the ‘direction’ of ‘Candidate-1’: Donald Trump.

He also admitted tax fraud by lying about his income from loans he made, money from  taxi medallions he owned, and other sources of income, at a cost to the Treasury of $1.3 million.

Campaign role: Paul Manafort chaired Trump's campaign for four months - which included the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, where he appeared on stage beside Trump who was preparing  to formally accept the Republican nomination

Campaign role: Paul Manafort chaired Trump's campaign for four months - which included the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016, where he appeared on stage beside Trump who was preparing  to formally accept the Republican nomination

GUILTY: PAUL MANAFORT

Found guilty of eight charges of bank and tax fraud in August 2018. Pleaded guilty to two charges Awaiting sentence and second trial

Manafort worked for Trump’s campaign from March 2016 and chaired it from June to August 2016, overseeing Trump being adopted as Republican candidate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He is the most senior campaign official to be implicated by Mueller. Manafort was one of Washington D.C.’s longest-term and most influential lobbyists but in 2015, his money dried up and the next year he turned to Trump for help, offering to be his campaign chairman for free – in the hope of making more money afterwards. But Mueller unwound his previous finances and discovered years of tax and bank fraud as he coined in cash from pro-Russia political parties and oligarchs in Ukraine.

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Manafort pleaded not guilty to 18 charges of tax and bank fraud but was convicted of eight counts. The jury was deadlocked on the other 10 charges. A second trial on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent is due in September.  

GUILTY: RICK GATES 

Pleaded guilty to conspiracy against the United States and making false statements in February 2018. Awaiting sentence

Gates was Manafort’s former deputy at political consulting firm DMP International. He admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government on financial activity, and to lying to investigators about a meeting Manafort had with a member of congress in 2013. As a result of his guilty plea and promise of cooperation, prosecutors vacated charges against Gates on bank fraud, bank fraud conspiracy, failure to disclose foreign bank accounts, filing false tax returns, helping prepare false tax filings, and falsely amending tax returns.

GUILTY: GEORGE PAPADOPOLOUS

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in October 2017. Awaiting sentence

Papadopoulos was a member of Donald Trump’s campaign foreign policy advisory committee. He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about his contacts with London professor Josef Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the director of a Russian government-funded think tank. 

He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY: RICHARD PINEDO

Pleaded guilty to identity fraud in February 2018. Awaiting sentence

Pinedo is a 28-year-old computer specialist from Santa Paula, California. He admitted to selling bank account numbers to Russian nationals over the internet that he had obtained using stolen identities. 

He has agreed to cooperate with the special counsel investigation.

GUILTY AND JAILED: ALEX VAN DER ZWAAN

Pleaded guilty to making false statements in February 2018. He served a 30-day prison sentence earlier this year and was deported to the Netherlands upon his release.

Van der Zwaan is a Dutch attorney for Skadden Arps who worked on a Ukrainian political analysis report for Paul Manafort in 2012. 

He admitted to lying to special counsel investigators about when he last spoke with Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik.

GUILTY:  W. SAMUEL PATTEN

Pleaded guilty in August 2018 to failing to register as a lobbyist while doing work for a Ukrainian political party. Awaiting sentence.

Patten, a long-time D.C. lobbyist was a business partner of Paul Manafort. He pleaded guilty to admitting to arranging an illegal $50,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration.

He arranged for an American ‘straw donor’ to pay $50,000 to the inaugural committee, knowing that it was actually for a Ukrainian businessman.

Neither the American or the Ukrainian have been named.   

CHARGED: KONSTANTIN KILIMNIK

Indicted for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. 

Kilimnik is a former employee of Manafort’s political consulting firm and helped him with lobbying work in Ukraine. He is accused of witness tampering, after he allegedly contacted individuals who had worked with Manafort to remind them that Manafort only performed lobbying work for them outside of the U.S.

He has been linked to  Russian intelligence and is currently thought to be in Russia – effectively beyond the reach of extradition by Mueller’s team.

INDICTED: THE RUSSIANS 

Twenty-five Russian nationals and three Russian entities have been indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. 

Two of these Russian nationals were also indicted for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 11 were indicted for conspiracy to launder money. Fifteen of them were also indicted for identity fraud. 

Vladimir Putin has ridiculed the charges. Russia effectively bars extradition of its nationals. The only prospect Mueller has of bringing any in front of a U.S. jury is if Interpol has their names on an international stop list – which is not made public – and they set foot in a territory which extradites to the U.S. 

Link hienalouca.com

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