Paul Manafort Close To Plea Deal To Avoid Second Federal Trial

TPM Illustration  Getty Images

TPM Illustration Getty Images

WASHINGTON ― Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has reached a tentative plea deal with the special counsel team led by Robert Mueller, reported ABC News and NPR on Thursday. Manafort's legal team has been meeting with prosecutors from the special counsel's office to negotiate a plea deal.

Manafort lawyer Kevin Downing and Mueller spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment on the ABC News report.

Manafort was convicted last month at trial in Alexandria, Virginia, of charges including bank and tax fraud.

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. Jackson is allowing prosecutors to mention that Manafort was campaign chairman in August 2016 when press reports, including articles by The Associated Press, called attention to his lobbying work on behalf of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the pro-Russian Party of Regions.

Manafort has been reassessing his legal risks after last month's trial.

Manafort had resisted agreeing to cooperate, particularly where President Trump was concerned, according to ABC News' previous reporting. At that point, Manafort would not be able to assert his 5th amendment right against self-incrimination as it relates to the two cases against him. Jury selection for his second trial is now set to begin on Monday, and opening arguments are scheduled for September 24.

"There's no fear that Paul Manafort would cooperate against the president because there's nothing to cooperate about and we long ago evaluated him as an honorable man", he added.

Those charges are the subject of the current plea deal. Gates may be a prosecution witness in his Washington trial as well.

The defense has planned to show that the special counsel had targeted Manafort because he had headed Trump's presidential campaign.

In the Virginia trial, prosecutors said Manafort hid from United States tax authorities $16 million he earned as a political consultant in Ukraine to fund an opulent lifestyle that included purchasing multimillion-dollar properties, an ostrich skin jacket and other valuables.

Trump discussed with his lawyers earlier this summer a possible pardon for Manafort, Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has told NPR.

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