Paul Manafort, Robert Mueller reach tentative plea deal

Elias Hubbard
September 14, 2018

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortManafort seeks plea deal without special counsel cooperation: report Investigators looking at suspicious money transfers after Trump Tower meeting, election: report Poll: More Americans favor Mueller's handling of Russian Federation probe than Trump's MORE has reportedly reached a "tentative" plea deal with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russian Federation probe MORE.

Three sources with knowledge of the discussions told ABC News that the deal is expected to be announced Friday, but it's unclear whether Manafort has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's team or will merely concede to a guilty plea.

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

He already faced a possible sentence of life behind bars before the second trial began in Washington, D.C.

The trial would be the second for Manafort stemming from Mueller's sprawling investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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.

Writing on Twitter on August 22, Trump said: "Unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to "break" - make up stories in order to get a 'deal. Such respect for a fearless man!" Prosecutors said he evaded taxes on $16 million laundered through shell companies overseas. Opening statements for trial number two are still scheduled (until we learn officially that there won't be a trial) for September 24.

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.

Trump has repeatedly come to Manafort's defense.

Prosecutors have said Manafort and Kilimnik conspired to tamper with witnesses, which prompted US District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson to revoke his bail and order him jailed pending trial. "Paul Manafort is a good man", he said after the Virginia jury returned its verdict.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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