Manafort pleads not guilty to state fraud charges in New York

Manafort pleads not guilty to state fraud charges in New York
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Former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDemocrats return to a battered Trump Manafort's legal team argues NY prosecution constitutes double jeopardy Clip surfaces of Paul Manafort and wife on Nickelodeon game show MORE has pleaded not guilty to state fraud charges in New York.

Manafort, a key figure in former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal MORE’s investigation, entered his plea during an arraignment Thursday in Manhattan, according to multiple reports.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced the indictment on March 13 — the same day that Manafort was sentenced in Washington, D.C., to the second of two prison terms for crimes uncovered in the course of Mueller’s investigation.

A grand jury in Manhattan returned a 16-count indictment charging Manafort with residential mortgage fraud, falsifying business records and other crimes.

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Manafort was the focus of tremendous public attention during the course of Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which concluded in March. Mueller did not find sufficient evidence to charge members or associates of the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russia. 

Mueller charged Manafort with financial and other crimes related to his foreign lobbying on behalf of pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine in October 2017. He was one of six Trump associates ensnared in the investigation.

Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud at a trial in Alexandria, Va., last summer and soon after agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with the special counsel to avert a second federal trial in D.C.

But a federal judge ruled that Manafort lied to investigators in breach of his plea deal, bringing a swift end to his cooperation. Manafort was sentenced in March to a combined 7 1/2 years in prison.

There has long been speculation that Trump, who has consistently attacked Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” could look to pardon his former 2016 campaign aide. The presidential pardon power only applies to federal crimes, not state offenses.

When asked about the possibility on the day of Manafort’s second sentencing in March, Trump said he hadn’t considered it.

“It is not something that's right now on my mind,” Trump said, adding, "I feel very badly for Paul Manafort.”

Manafort was photographed by news outlets entering the courthouse in Manhattan on Thursday in handcuffs and a dark prison jumpsuit, his hair graying.

Manafort is being held in federal prison in Manhattan.