Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Paul Manafort Reaches Tentative Plea Deal with Robert Mueller

Paul Manafort Reaches Tentative Plea Deal with Robert Mueller

US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is nearing a plea deal with US prosecutors to avoid a second criminal trial, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Manafort has already been found guilty on 8 charges of bank and tax fraud in a separate trial.

"Manafort and his most senior defense attorneys spent more than four hours Thursday in discussions with a team of special prosecutors who are involved in the ongoing investigation into whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation", the report says.

ABC says the deal will be announced in court on Friday, heading off the upcoming trial.

Manafort was at a controversial meeting at Trump Tower in 2016 where Russians were offering "dirt" on election opponent Hillary Clinton.

The former Trump associate faces charges of obstruction of justice, money laundering and failing to register as a foreign agent in his second trial in D.C. The charges stem from work he did lobbying for pro-Russian forces in Ukraine, which is unrelated to his work on the Trump campaign.

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Reuters is reporting separately that the deal is close, but has not been completed yet. A pretrial hearing, postponed this week, is scheduled for Friday. ABC News reported Wednesday that Manafort's attorneys wanted a plea deal that did not require him to cooperate with the Mueller probe.

Following Manafort's conviction in Virginia, Trump said he felt "very badly" for Manafort and praised him for refusing to become a cooperating witness for the government like the president's former legal fixer, Michael Cohen, who separately pleaded guilty in NY to tax fraud, bank fraud and a campaign finance violation.

Jackson said she would allow Downing to file additional information about his argument before issuing a ruling, but was inclined to bar such references because they weren't relevant to the charges against Manafort. The conference will begin at 11:30, pushing it back two hours.Jury selection in the Manafort case was set to start next week, with a trial beginning on September 24.

Prosecutors have approached the second trial much like the first: with a wealth of documentary evidence and a range of witnesses who worked with Manafort.

Trump has repeatedly come to Manafort's defense. The witness tampering allegations were brought earlier this year, and Manafort has been in jail, awaiting trial, since June because of them. "Paul Manafort is a good man", he said after the Virginia jury returned its verdict.

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