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Paul Manafort, center, and his defense lawyer, Richard Westling, left, stand before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson. At bottom are prosecutors Greg Andres (left) and Andrew Weissmann. Photo: Dana Verkouteren via AP

Paul Manafort — who took notes (apparently on his phone) during the notorious Trump Tower meeting with Russians — agreed to tell all he knows to special counsel Robert Mueller as part of a deal to plead guilty and avoid a second trial.

Why he matters, per N.Y. Times: "Of all Mr. Trump’s campaign advisers, Mr. Manafort arguably had the deepest ties to Russian operatives and oligarchs."

Manafort's cooperation may "answer some of the most critical questions about whether any Americans conspired with Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election," per the Washington Post.

  • If you're keeping score: "Manafort joins four other Trump aides who have offered cooperation in exchange for lesser charges ... Michael D. Cohen, the president’s longtime personal lawyer; Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser; Rick Gates, the former deputy campaign chairman; and George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser."(NYT)

Go deeper

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."