Manafort reaches 'tentative' plea deal with Mueller

  • Manafort reaches 'tentative' plea deal with Mueller

Manafort reaches 'tentative' plea deal with Mueller

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.

The report said that it was not clear yet whether the deal includes Manafort's cooperation, which ABC News previously reported was a desire of the special counsel in the negotiations. ABC News reported Wednesday that Manafort's attorneys wanted a plea deal that did not require him to cooperate with the Mueller probe.

Word of the agreement comes as Manafort's second trial was slated to begin later this month in federal court in Washington, D.C. His onetime business partner and protege, Rick Gates, took such a deal and appeared as the government's star witness against Manafort in his Virginia trial last month.

Manafort is already facing 8 to 10 years in prison from the eight guilty counts in Virginia, terms that may not change significantly no matter the outcome of the second trial.

The charges do not relate to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and jurors are expected to only hear limited references to Manafort's role in the campaign. If Manafort is getting a deal, that means Mueller is getting something in return. Trump's critics have pointed to the meeting as evidence of the collusion with Russian Federation that Trump denies.

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. Desperate for cash, prosecutors said he lied to banks in order to secure $20 million in loans. "Paul Manafort is a good man", he said after the Virginia jury returned its verdict.

Manafort worked for five months on Trump's 2016 campaign, including three as chairman. A pretrial hearing, postponed this week, is scheduled for Friday. He resigned in August 2016 following a news report linking him to payments from Yanukovych's pro-Russia political party.

A second trial could delve deeper into Manafort's Russian connections including to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian-Russian political consultant who was indicted along with Manafort and who Mueller's team has linked to Russian intelligence.