Manafort talking plea deal with prosecutors: report

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortFormer White House lawyer sought to pay Manafort, Gates legal fees: report Mueller investigating Russian payments made by Trump Tower meeting organizers: report Cohen questioned for hours in Mueller probe about Trump's dealings with Russia: report MORE is in talks with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s office regarding a possible plea deal, two sources tell The Washington Post.

The report comes days before jury selection is set to begin for Manafort’s second trial.

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He faces seven charges, including illegal foreign lobbying on behalf of a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine and conspiracy to launder money.

The specifics of the conversations with the special counsel's office, including if Manafort would provide damaging information on President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE, are still unclear. 

Should the discussions produce a plea deal, they would mark a stark departure from Manafort’s past strategy of defiance toward the Mueller probe.

Rather than taking a plea deal in a case involving charges of bank and tax fraud, Manafort fought the charges in a trial in Virginia but was found guilty on eight counts. He is facing up to 10 years in prison. 

He also slammed his former business partner Richard Gates for cooperating with the Mueller team in exchange for leniency in his own case.

“I had hoped and expected my business colleague would have had the strength to continue the battle to prove our innocence,” Manafort said in February.

Trump offered praise for Manafort after he was convicted in the Virginia trial.

“I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’ took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and ... he refused to ‘break’ — make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!” he tweeted.

Manafort attended the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer who promised dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Heller embraces Trump in risky attempt to survive in November Live coverage: Cruz, O'Rourke clash in Texas debate MORE.

The news of a potential plea deal could reignite speculation that Trump may pardon his former campaign chairman to prevent him from cooperating with the special counsel, although the president's personal attorneys have already advised against such a move.

Jury selection is scheduled to start on Monday for Manafort’s trial in Washington, D.C. Opening statements are slated for Sept. 24.