Paul Manafort, Robert Mueller reach tentative plea deal

Sergio Conner
September 14, 2018

Paul Manafort, the former campaign chair for President Donald Trump, reached a "tentative" agreement with prosecutors to plead guilty to charges that were set to be taken to trial this month, according to a new report from ABC News.

CNN, however, described the two sides as coming "close" to a deal on Thursday.

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 feds were expected to announce the agreement in court Friday, but it remained uncertain whether the global man of intrigue had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the Russian Federation probe. Manafort had resisted agreeing to cooperate, particularly where President Trump was concerned, according to ABC News' previous reporting.

Manafort served as Trump's campaign chairman until August 2016, when he stepped down as reports emerged about the work he did for Russia-backed oligarchs in Ukraine.

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Reports have circulated for a week that Manafort's defense attorneys were in talks with Mueller's team to reach a deal to avoid the second trial.

Regarding the Washington case, Manafort is accused of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, conspiring to launder money, and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department about the nature of his work.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is representing Trump in the Russian Federation probe, previously told the Politico news outlet that taking a plea deal to avoid a second trial would not crush Manafort's chances of receiving an eventual presidential pardon.

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. Gates may be a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

Rick Gates, Manafort's former business partner and the campaign's deputy chairman, pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his cooperation, later testifying against Manafort in Virginia. The witness tampering allegations were brought earlier this year, and Manafort has been in jail, awaiting trial, since June because of them.

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