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Legal expert says Manafort deal could help Trump in short term

Legal expert Jonathan Turley on Tuesday said former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortManafort to be sentenced in Virginia in February Former FBI agent sentenced to 4 years in jail for leaking to reporter The Hill's 12:30 Report — Mnuchin won't attend Saudi conference | Pompeo advises giving Saudis 'few more days' to investigate | Trump threatens military action over caravan MORE's guilty plea could end up playing well for President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE ahead of November's midterm elections. 

"The big problem is if [Manafort] had gone through that trial in D.C., he might have had a real hard time getting a pardon. He was going to come out of there very damaged goods if people heard all of those witnesses," Turley, an opinion contributor for The Hill, said to Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on "Rising." 

"It is also a good thing for Trump, quite frankly. It would have been a bad thing to have the midterm elections coming, and have a daily account of this stuff coming out about Paul Manafort, about working for pro-Russian interests. So, in some ways, Trump also comes out a little ahead with the plea bargain because it takes those optics out," Turley continued. 

His comments come after prosecutors last week reached a plea agreement with Manafort in which he pleaded guilty to two federal charges and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigation into Russia's election meddling. 

The agreement states that the former Trump campaign chairman must cooperate “fully, truthfully, completely, and forthrightly” with the Justice Department. 

Manafort was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud charges last month in a separate trial in Alexandria, Va.

The White House has maintained that the Manaofort's trials are unrelated to the Trump campaign. 

— Julia Manchester