Manafort reported to cut plea deal with Mueller

Manafort reported to cut plea deal with Mueller

"If the government agrees to a plea deal without cooperation now, they save nothing in terms of time, money, or resources", former federal prosecutor Patrick Cotter said.

The tentative deal was first reported on Thursday evening by ABC News.

Manafort has been held in jail for the last several months after prosecutors accused him of witness tampering.

Manafort made a similar unsuccessful request in his bank fraud and tax evasion trial in northern Virginia.

Any plea by Manafort would be another unsettling development for a president who seems increasingly isolated and distrustful of members of his own circle.

If a plea is concluded on Friday, it also might keep nitty gritty details out of the public eye involving Manafort's lobbying activities in Ukraine on behalf of Viktor Yanukovich, the former president who was ousted in popular protests.

Mueller's investigation has resulted in charges against at least 32 people, including Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

Trump praised Manafort last month for not entering into a plea agreement, as the president's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen had.

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Although most of Manafort's charges predate his work for the Trump campaign, his conviction was still considered a huge victory for Mueller's Russian investigation - which Trump has exceedingly bashed and decried as a "witch hunt."

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. Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, was convicted on eight out of 18 counts related to tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts. The second trial is due to begin on September 24. In pretrial filings, they listed 2,127 potential exhibits. But Judge Amy Berman Jackson of United States District Court for the District of Columbia had already signaled that argument was out-of-bounds.

Trump has repeatedly come to Manafort's defence. The jury said they were hung on 10 other charges.

Manafort's cooperation could be significant. If he pleads guilty, his lawyers could argue that he deserves a lighter sentence for accepting responsibility for his crimes. The next hearing in the case was rescheduled to 11am on Friday, an entry in the court docket said.

Whether Manafort would cooperate has been an issue during his plea negotiations, according to one person familiar with the discussions.

A 69-year-old veteran lobbyist, Manafort joined Trump's campaign team in March 2016 and spent three months as Trump's campaign chairman until mid August 2016.

None of the charges against Manafort related to collusion with Russian Federation.

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